An East Yorkshire farmer described as an ambassador for his industry has received a national award in acknowledgement of his endeavours.
Third generation farmer Paul Temple had the title of Mixed Farmer of the Year 2021 bestowed on him by Farmers Weekly.
Paul, of Wold Farm, near Driffield, presides over a system of conservation agriculture on the tenanted farm where he describes himself as not only a mixed beef and arable farmer but also a soil scientist in the making.
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He said: “The award means a lot, not just to me. It’s for everybody who works on the farm and supplies the farm.
“It’s a team and I can’t do it without all these people.”
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Paul’s impressive drive to improve soil biology across his medium clay loam land, while cutting back on inputs and notable business management, helped earned him the title.
It’s a virtual circle at the farm, where wheat, barley, oil seed rape, beans and grass leys are grown in a six-year rotation.
Straw generated on the farm is used to bed down the cattle; the 550-head beef herd’s manure is used to fertilise the crops.
“My grandfather was effectively an organic farmer as he didn’t have the machinery and other things available to him that we do,” said Paul.
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“A lot of things are the same on the farm, working on the same principle, but the scale of the operation is significantly bigger.”
Deciding to go down the no-till route has brought positive impacts, from boosting the natural properties of the soil to cutting down on machinery and labour costs.
The use of insecticides is being phased out at Wold Farm and fungicides are used sparingly as Paul looks to make the most out of the soil biology.
The farm is currently in Higher Level Stewardship, meaning it undertakes environmental management schemes that offer significant benefits to wildlife conservation, protection of the historic environment and promotion of public access and understanding of the countryside.
Paul works with schools and colleges on educational access and takes pride in offering young people their first opportunity of work and responsibility.
Matthew Curry, managing director of North East Grains, an independent judge of the 2021 Farmers Weekly Awards, said: “Paul is an ambassador for the industry.
“His focus on business management, soil health and market understanding is exceptional. His wheat yields are quite incredible considering the level of nitrogen he is applying.”
Receiving his Mixed Farmer of the Year Award, which was sponsored by Cawood Scientific, Paul was the only winner from Yorkshire.
He said: “It was nice to be shortlisted, it was an unusual exercise to go through. You have to explain what you are doing and why. It was a really enjoyable visit from the judges.
“Then, to be chosen as the winner (Paul was up against farming finalists from West Berkshire and Ceredigion for the award) was great.
“I think what the awards highlight is that we can think outside the box and should not be frightened about doing things differently.
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“I think they make you realise how many good, enthusiastic people, both young and experienced, are in this industry.”
Farmers Weekly has been providing a service to the UK farming community for more than 80 years and its Farmers Weekly Awards, the biggest night in the farming calendar, are in their 17th year of recognising and rewarding farmers for innovation, commitment to the industry and hard work.