Two Mid Wales farmers are included in a shortlist of three for the coveted Sir Bryner Jones Memorial Award, which this year focuses on an Net Zero ambition within their farming business.
The flagship award from the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS) will be presented at the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells on Monday, the opening day of the four-day event which celebrates the best of Welsh and British agriculture.
The shortlisted finalists are: Edward Vaughan of Sychtyn, Llanerfyl, near Llanfair Caereinion, Ben Williams of Greenway Farm, Llanhamlach, Brecon and Dylan Jones of Castellior, Anglesey.
Sir Bryner Jones helped shape the direction of the RWAS for 50 years, was Agricultural Commissioner for Wales and subsequently became Welsh Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. He was Royal Welsh Show president in 1954, the RWAS’ Golden Jubilee year.
Since 1957 the award has been made annually to someone from a different area of the farming industry who has reached the highest level of achievement in the chosen sector. The Net Zero ambition is RWAS’ desire to leave the world a better place.
“We had the privilege of visiting eight outstanding businesses throughout Wales,” said the judges Tom Allison, RWAS board member and Alex Lockton, RenewEV.
“Many of this year's entries demonstrated a clear understanding of the commercial and carbon economics of their farm, a circular approach to self-sufficiency and a clear objective in leaving a sustainable legacy for their family.
“This has been both the most challenging and inspiring evaluation process with which we’ve ever been involved. There is not one visit which did not teach us something to share with others and we encourage those entrants to share their ideas with each other and in their wider local communities.”
Sychtyn Farm has transitioned a flock of 1,500 mule ewes from lambing inside and intensively managed to outside via Easycare breed without any concentrate feed. The Vaughan family has continental and native suckler cows producing quick-growing cattle from grass, finished from home-grown forage crops.
More than 2,000 metres of new hedges have been planted in the last three years and 10 acres of peat bog have been fenced to exclude livestock and help store carbon. Organic matter with the soils has been dramatically increased by replacing compound fertiliser with digestate.
In 2021, Edward created a new company to supply electricity direct from the farm via wind power to more than 100 homes within the local community, with plans to also supply businesses in the near future.
Greenway Farm is a highly productive 450-acre mixed farm, finishing 250 dairy bred cattle with a flock of 600 ewes and 205 acres of arable crops compromising wheat, oil seed rape, beans, spring barley and cover crops.
Focussing on direct drilling and zero tillage since 2008, Ben runs productive and efficient paddock grazing grassland. To achieve the end goal of Net Zero, Greenway Farm has been measuring soil organic matter over the last 10 years and has managed a 2% increase. The farm also has 83.6 kw of solar PV with more planned this year.
Castellior is an 800-acre farm on Anglesey that finishes 1,500 cattle through a completely self-sufficient, low-carbon feeding system that is near to its net zero goal.
The farm chooses pastures that lock nitrogen in the ground, concentrates on soil health and manure management, thereby reducing the use of chemical fertilizers, measures cattle performance through the use of digital software and experiments with barley crop growth.
The winner will be announced in the RWAS Council Enclosure on the first day of the show, Monday, July 24, at 2.30pm. The winner’s medal is sponsored by Gareth Roberts, a member of the RWAS Board of Directors.
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