Press release: 2024 Soil Farmer of the Year winners announced at Groundswell!

The winners and runners-up of the 2024 Soil Farmer of the Year competition were announced at Groundswell, with all the finalists speaking about how they have prioritised soil management and the results achieved by doing so.

Tracy Russell and David Newman from Bucksum at Shabbington Fields Farm in Buckinghamshire claimed the top spot, with Ed Horton from SS Horton & Sons in Gloucestershire in second place and Ben Richards from Middle Trelan Farm Ltd in Cornwall placed third.

Soil Farmer of the Year Winners and Finalists 2024
Soil Farmer of the Year Winners and Finalists 2024.

Bucksum is predominantly a market garden business, which uses a four-year rotation, taking a cash crop once every four years while building soil health and fertility by using herbal leys grazed by sheep for the other three years in the rotation.

Deborah Crossan, head of soils and natural resources at Innovation for Agriculture and one of the competition judges, shares that she was impressed by the diversity of approaches taken to improve soil health at Bucksum.

“During the judging visit Tracy and David shared how they are using chickens to clear the ground under the agroforestry fruit tree lines and how the agroforestry, together with the introduction of sheep grazing in the fields, has brought more natural predators to the farm,” she says.

“They are also making their own soil improver using their own green waste, composted wood chippings from a local tree surgeon and spent hops from a nearby brewery,” she adds.

From right to left: Ben Richards, Ed Horton, David Newman, Tracey Russell and Emma Adams/FCT

Becky Willson, Business Development and Technical Director at Farm Carbon Toolkit and another judge of the competition, shares that the soil management practices undertaken at Bucksum are a phenomenal example of how consideration of soil can provide real and tangible results for a farm business.

“There are real opportunities to take some of the brilliant ideas that David and Tracy are using on their farm and apply them to other farming enterprises,” she says. “The prioritisation of soil health through a diverse range of practices was inspirational and a testament to what can be achieved.”

The Soil Farmer of the Year competition is jointly run by Farm Carbon Toolkit and Innovation for Agriculture, and kindly sponsored by Cotswold Seeds and Hutchinsons. Following the awards ceremony, all three finalist farms will be hosting farm walks to demonstrate their practices and approaches.

“These farm walks will be a fantastic opportunity for farmers to share ideas, as well as seeing and hearing about the host farm’s practices, so I’d strongly encourage anyone who is interested in shifting their practices to improve soil health and increase their farm business resilience to come to one of these events,” says Becky Willson.

About Soil Farmer of the Year

The Soil Farmer of the Year competition aims to find farmers and growers who are engaged with, and passionate about managing their soils in a way which supports productive agriculture, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and builds soil health, organic matter and carbon.

For more information about the Soil Farmer of the Year Competition – and entry
details, click here.


Issued by: Emma Adams, [email protected]


  • Farm Carbon Toolkit is a farmer-led Community Interest Company, that provides world-leading practical and impact-led solutions to farmers, growers, land managers and their customers, to support the transition to climate-positive and resilient food production systems. To find out more visit
  • Innovation for Agriculture (IfA) is an independent, charitable organisation working to make UK agriculture more sustainable, profitable and resilient. Through interactive workshops, on-farm demonstrations and practical events, IfA aims to provide UK farmers with solutions of real commercial value. Visit:
  • The competition is being judged by a panel including representatives from IfA and Farm
    Carbon Toolkit, Cotswold Seeds, Hutchinsons and previous Soil Farmer of the Year winners.