A Durham-based farmer, Richard Suddes, has been named the UK’s Soil Farmer of the Year against tough competition from across the country.

Richard, who farms 1200 acres from the farm base in Cornsay, shares first prize with Tim Parton, an arable farmer from Staffordshire.  The prestigious, popular competition is organised by the Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit (FCCT) and Innovation for Agriculture (IfA).

The competition aims to find famers and growers who manage their soils in a way which supports productive agriculture, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and builds soil health, organic matter and carbon.

Richard, his brother and father run W.I. Suddes & Sons at South Farm, which has a mixed farming system with cattle and arable cropping and which also now includes A Cut Above Meat Co., their recently established beef sale venture.  He changed his farming system nine years ago to combat weather and ground conditions, and to give more focus to soil management.

The judges recognised Richard’s dedication to his soil management and his pioneering attitude to trying new methods and integrating cropping and livestock to build soil health.

He is experimenting with undersowing crops with clover as well as focussing on nutrient usage and maximising the benefits of the livestock manures on the arable rotation.

Richard said: “This is a fantastic award and we’re delighted that the hard work of all who work on the farm has been recognised, against high quality entrants from across the UK.”

Jonathan Smith, organiser of the competition and FCCT Director said: “It is fantastic to see such amazing farmers sharing their soil management stories. Yet again there was a lot of strong applicants, and it was 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. These farmers and growers are demonstrating the benefits of building soil organic matter – healthier, more productive soils, increased carbon sequestration and better yields. It’s a win-win approach, and a message we would like to spread far and wide.”

Richard Suddes will be hosting a farm walk on Wednesday 5 July from 6pm to 8.30pm, when he will also be presented with his prize by the competition sponsor, Cotswold Seeds.  The walk will give people the chance to see, understand and dig a bit deeper into the methods he is using.

Places are free, but booking is requested to help with catering. To book your place please call Becky on 07875 356611 / 01579 372376 or email becky.willson@farmcarbontoolkit.org.uk