Forward-thinking farmer named the best in the country
- Credit: Jason Bye
A north Suffolk farm manager has been crowned the 2021 Farmer of the Year - at a ceremony which also brought national awards for two Norfolk livestock farms.
On a successful night for East Anglian agriculture, Edward Vipond, of Troston Farms in Stanton, near Thetford, won the top accolade at the annual Farmers Weekly Awards.
He was praised for his "huge commitment" to the 1,500ha arable operation, and "consistent performance of crop yields" for the farm's wheat, barley, rye, beans, sunflowers and maize.
The judges said: "Edward manages all business risks extremely well, has an excellent understanding of financial matters and has led the farm through a period of rapid growth for him and his small team.
"He shows a huge commitment to the farms he manages and is not afraid of big decisions, with a forward-thinking and realistic approach to the future of the business."
Mr Vipond also won the Farm Manager of the Year category, which highlighted his success in an expanding business.
Awards judges said the main challenges on his arrival six years ago were a significant blackgrass weed issue, and poor soil structure, with machinery and cropping ill-suited to the soil types.
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"Edward’s wholesale changes to rotations have seen oilseed rape, sugar beet and forage rye removed from the light land, with sunflowers and milling rye replacing these to reduce risk," they said.
Meanwhile, he adds value to the farm's output through contracts with food manufacturers Ryvita and Warburton’s, as well as local pet food and bird feed suppliers, and anaerobic digestion feedstock customers.
He was also praised for his environmental efforts and for promoting farming at the Suffolk Show and the Suffolk Farm School Fair.
Norfolk successes included the award of the Dairy Farmer of the Year title to Mark Larwood of Oak House Farm in Larling, which milks 250 Holstein cows and calves all year round.
The judges said: "With a positive attitude and appetite to continue to drive improvements, he is a great advocate for the industry."
And the 2021 Pig Farmer of the Year is Richard Mellor, from Grange Farm in King’s Lynn, who produces animals for the the BQP/Pilgrims supply chain on a 145ha council farm that he secured seven years ago.
"Richard is making great strides to improve production in his 990-sow outdoor breeding unit to ensure the business is as self-sufficient as possible," said the judges.