Finalists: Arable farmer of the year 2021, sponsored by Biker Group Concrete

Andrew Wilson

ANDREW runs an arable enterprise on 400 acres at Brickyard Farm, Slingsby, of which 70 acres are owned by the farm and 330 are rented from the nearby Castle Howard Estate. He also has a further 300 acres which he farms on an ongoing stubble-to-stubble agreement. And a further 250 acres are used for potato growing, making a total of about 950 acres.

There are also 1,250 B & B pigs reared for Ian Mosey for the past 22 years, though the farm started B & B pigs back in 1990 before it became a known enterprise option. The farm also dries corn for other local farmers and has a small sideline supplying straw. They buy extra straw ‘in the swath’ then bale and sell locally and have been doing this since 1994.

Andrew took over the tenancy of the farm upon his father's death in 2018 but had been joint tenant with his father for several years.

The farm grows eight different crops: 120 acres of winter wheat, 70 acres of winter barley, 40 acres of spring barley, 30 acres each of spring oats for seed and spring beans, 20 acres of milling oats and 80 acres of sugar beet, along with a small acreage of grass.

Andrew is very keen on following a good rotation program and has found a system which suits the farms heavy land, with wheat following potatoes and beans where possible.

The farm are members of the ALS Countryside stewardship scheme and are in the Mid Tier Scheme. They have made use of the Countryside Productivity Grant and have increased grass margins along water courses and general field margins.

Andrew was a founder member of Future Farmers of Yorkshire – at the beginning there were only 30 members, now there are more than 1,000 and Andrew is the longest serving member.


John Simpson

JOHN began managing Newfield Organics, on behalf of the Wass family, in 2007 though he had worked on the farm since 1992 when he left school. He started working part time then did a three-year agriculture course at Askham Bryan before returning full time. He took over as manager when his predecessor passed away.

The farm comprises 200 acres owned land and a further 100 acres of rented land, and is fully organic. The farm lies high on the southern edge of the North York Moors. At an altitude of 650ft above sea level, it must be one of the highest organic farms in the country.

At the start of 2020, Rosemary Wass retired and John took over the business renting the whole farm from Rosemary. Approximately half of the farm lies on sandy loam soils over yellow sand and limestone, the remainder is on black peaty soils over sandstone.

John Simpson

John Simpson

Sowing of seeds takes place in spring, with planting in May and June, and harvesting running right through from August to April.

Each year, 30 acres is dedicated to growing 20 varieties of vegetables within a fully rotational system – 30 acres of seed potatoes, 40 of spring barley, nine of spring oats and sometimes some spring wheat is also grown.

The remaining acreage is grass, which is used for grazing and to make about 200 bales of haylage.

There are 50 suckler cows continental crosses, Luings and Simmental/Luing crosses are put to the farm's own Limousin bull, which are fattened and sold, and 300 breeding ewes half-bred Scotch Blackface and Suffolk crosses are bred to Beltex and Texel Tups.

The Farm is Red Tractor Assured and also has the Soil Association Organic Standard.

Despite Covid-19, this has been one of the best year's ever for the farm. Demand for veg boxes rose and by October demand was on a par with previous Christmas order books.

Mark Ward

HAMBLETON Farming Company Ltd was set up in 2016 by Mark Ward to encompass the arable mechanisation and management requirements of three parent businesses, including his own 120 acre rented farm.

Mark also has 800 B & B pigs, which he contract rears, and 20 beef stores, which are housed and all contribute to the manure/slurry input for the arable side.

The business has been set up to run without subsidies and, as such, needs to operate within its own means with the remit of fixing the parent businesses' arable fixed costs into a chargeable fee for operations.

In 2020 the business had 28 farms amounting to 5600 acres over which it contract sprays and applies fertiliser. 

Mark Ward

Mark Ward

The business also has a portfolio of clients using their services, such as spray and fertiliser application, lime spreading, slurry application, cultivations, and combinable crop establishment.

The operation is managed by Mark Ward with two full-time on the farming side and two secretaries doing three hours a week each.

The rotation is generally a five-year one with a mix of maize, beans, winter oilseed rape, grass and cover crops used as break crops. Winter wheat (400 acres) and winter barley (100 acres) are grown with spring barley on some areas. The other 280 acres are split between the other crops, with the acreages depending on which year of the cycle they are in.

All the land is mapped via GPS for major nutrients with lime applied to attain a target pH of 6.8. They have mapped for organic matter on some land and these are due a re-test to see if there have been improvements.

Mark and his wife, Dawn, have two children, Isabella, 15, and Teddy, who is eight, and the business engages with schools on the Farmer Time initiative teaching school children about agriculture.

  • The Northern Farmer Awards 2021 will take place – virtually – on Thursday, February 25. Log onto at 7pm to watch the ceremony. Get involved on social media using #northernfarmerawards