Sharing best practice and innovation through championing farmers who are improving their soils.
The Farm Carbon Toolkit and Innovation for Agriculture’s competition to find the UK’s Soil Farmer of 2021 is open for applications.
Following its success over the last five years, the competition is open again this year from today World Soils Day 2020. 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 who understand the importance of soil, and who 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 the farm. Previous winners include Clive Bailye, Tim Parton, Richard Suddes, Simon Cowell, Julian Gold, Jake Freestone and Alex Brewster.
“As an organisation we're very proud to be the hosts of Soil Farmer of the Year, along with our partners who provide excellent support,” explains Jonathan Smith, FCT director. “However the real stars of the show are the amazing farmers and growers entering the competition. The standard is always really high, and the practices that our Soil Farmers are demonstrating are nothing short of inspirational. As good soil management increasingly becomes recognised as an essential technique in our response to the climate crisis, these farmers are showing how it can be done in a practical way. Seeing is believing, and our winners are certainly providing strong evidence to persuade other farmers to raise their game in soil management.”
The competition is open to any UK farmer or grower who is 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 previous years. The competition is being generously sponsored again by Cotswold Seeds, and the top three entries will all receive prizes of fertility building or green manure seed.
“We are very proud to be sponsoring Soil Farmer of the Year once again,” explains Ian Wilkinson, MD of Cotswold Seeds and Founder of FarmED. “Cotswold Seeds has been sponsoring this award since it was launched and we applaud it’s aim 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. This echoes the work of Cotswold Seeds and FarmED, our new centre for farm and food education. Soil health underpins every activity on a 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, locking in carbon and improving the health of crops, livestock, humans and the planet. We’re delighted to be supporting an initiative that acknowledges this.”
Previous applicants are invited to apply again, and as a first this year, farmers 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 2021. 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 2021.