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 Soil Farmer of the Year 2019 is open for applications.
Following on from its success over the last three years, the competition opens again this year on World Soils Day, highlighting the important role farmers have to play in managing, protecting and sustaining soils. It aims to find farmers and growers who are engaged with and passionate about managing their soils in a way which supports productive agriculture, promotes biodiversity, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and builds soil organic matter.
The competition has attracted a high calibre of applicants with top quality farmers being recognised over the last three years. Originally won by Clive Bailye in its inaugural year, the competition has recognised Richard Suddes and Tim Parton in 2017, and Simon Cowell in 2018 along with a host of other talented farmers who are passionate about soil management who have been finalists.
Simon Cowell, who won the award last year, explained his reasons for entering. “Having been trying to improve my soil for over 20 years, the more I understand the working of my soil, the more I realise how little we know. I have learnt so much from other farmers including previous winners and finalists of The Soil Farmer of the Year. I thought that now it was my turn to step forward and share my experiences with anyone who is interested.”
Sustainable soil management is fundamental to profitable farm businesses, a thriving and diverse natural environment and will enable a transformation to a low carbon economy. Showcasing these exceptional farmers who are pioneering new approaches and sharing ideas with others will help us all show the positive steps that are being taken to protect our most precious resource..
David Gardner, FCCT Director said “During the last three years of running this competition, it is fantastic to see such amazing farmers sharing their soil management stories. Judging is always a difficult process as there are a lot of strong applicants, and it is a hard decision on who to shortlist as well as to decide the final result. We appreciate the effort all entrants put in to the competition and would encourage even more farmers and growers to enter the competition this year to join the prestigious alumni of Soil Farmers."
FCCT are proud to run this competition in partnership with Innovation for Agriculture, who focus much of their activity with farmers on the theme of soil health and soil organic matter. Deborah Crossan, Soil and Water manager at Innovation for Agriculture explains, "We are delighted to continue to support the Soil Farmer of the Year competition for 2019. We have enjoyed working closely with last year's successful contestants and look forward to a high calibre of applicants this year."
The competition is open to any UK farmer and 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 on this year's competition as well as write ups from the farm walks for the last three years to inspire you to join in.
FCCT is delighted that this project is in partnership with 4 per 1000 Initiative, the international collaboration aiming to demonstrate that agriculture, and in particular agricultural soils can play a crucial role where food security and climate change are concerned. As the first project in the UK to be officially partnered by 4 per 1000, we firmly support the aims of the Initiative, and in particular recognise the enormous potential of farm soils to sequester carbon whilst providing multiple co-benefits to farmers and society.
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 2019. Shortlisted applicants will be visited by the judging panel in late spring and the results will be published by the end of May. The top three applicants will also be hosting farm walks during 2019.