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Soil Farmer of the Year competition launched today

5th Dec 2019

Sharing best practice and innovation through championing farmers who are improving their soils

The Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit and Innovation for Agriculture’s competition to find the UK’s Top Soil Farmers of 2020 is open for applications.

Access the Soil Farmer pages here

Following the success of the competition over the last few years, the competition is open again from today, World Soil Day 2019. It aims to find farmers and growers who are engaged with, and passionate about, managing their soils in a way which supports productive agriculture, biodiversity, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and builds soil organic matter and carbon. 

Sustainable soil management is one of the cornerstones of profitable farm businesses, a thriving and diverse natural environment and a transformation to a low carbon economy. Soil health is of critical importance to everyone and this competition champions farmers and growers who understand the importance of soil, and are changing their management to protect and improve it.

Over the years the competition has attracted top quality farmers to apply, both large and small, conventional and organic, who have a  variety of enterprises on-farm. Previous winners include Clive Bailye, Tim Parton, Richard Suddes, Simon Cowell and Julian Gold.

Jonathan Smith, one of the directors of Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit explains,  “Back in July at Julian Gold’s farm I was amazed at the combined knowledge and enthusiasm of the 40 or so farmers who gathered to learn more about Julian’s soil management. It’s moments like these that you realise the importance of this competition, bringing people together to learn from each other and drive each other towards better soil management practice.

Right now we need to show how farming can be part of the climate crisis solution, and indeed it can. The answer mostly lies in the soil, where good management can lead to net carbon sequestration. This is a win-win for farmers and the climate, and this competition will showcase some of the best examples of this.

We would love to see even more farmers and growers apply. Whether you have livestock, arable, veg, fruit, organic or not, please do think about applying. You might not think your good enough to win – well let us be the judge of that!”

The competition is run in partnership with Innovation for Agriculture. Deborah Crossan, Soil and Water manager from IfA comments, “We are delighted to launch Soil Farmer of the Year on World Soils Day . This competition continues to inspire others with positive stories of success and attracts entries from farmers who are managing their soils for resilience and a sustainable productive future.”

The competition is open to any UK farmer or grower who are managing their soils in a way which optimises soil health and quality. Applications are being taken online through this link, where there is more information and an opportunity to read the write ups from the last two years. The competition has been generously supported by Cotswold Seeds since its inception and they provide prizes for the competition with the top three farmers receiving fertility building or green manure seed.

Managing Director of Cotswold Seeds, Ian Wilkinson explains, ‘Cotswold Seeds has been proudly sponsoring the UK Soil Farmer of the Year award since it was launched. The aim of this competition,to celebrate farmers who are managing their soils in a way that increases organic matter to support productive and healthy crops and pasture, which in turn supports a profitable and resilient farming system, is totally inline with the work of Cotswold Seeds. Soil health underpins every activity on the farm and many of our seed mixtures, such as herbal leys and cover crops, are designed to improve soil structure and fertility. The soil is a vital natural resource so we’re delighted to be supporting an initiative that encourages farmers to give it the respect it deserves.’ 

We are also delighted this year to be able to work with the National Trust who are very kindly sponsoring the competition for the first time in 2020. Thanks to their support FCCT will be able to bring more farmers together to share information and knowledge on sustainable soil management and promote the amazing asset that soil is on the farm and in wider society.

Previous applicants are invited to apply again, and farmers or advisors are able to nominate others who they think are excelling in prioritising soil health in their business.

The competition opens on World Soils Day on the 5th December, and will close on the 5thof March 2020. Shortlisted applicants will be visited by the judging panel and the results will be published at the end of April. The top three applicants will also be hosting farm walks during summer 2020. This year we will be returning to Groundswell in June to present the finalists with their awards and hear more about their award winning soil management in a dedicated session for Soil Farmer of the Year at the event. 

The competition is kindly being sponsored by