A farmer from Cornsey, near Consett, has scooped a prestigious national award for the way he manages his land.
Richard Suddes – who runs his 1,200-acre farm with his father and brother – was recently given the UK Soil Farmer of the Year Award. Mr Suddes will share the prize with Staffordshire farmer Tim Parton.
The contest – run by Innovation for Agriculture and The Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit – seeks to reward farmers who look after the health of their soil in a way that cuts carbon emissions and supports sustainable agriculture.
Mr Suddes – who both farms cattle and raises crops – changed the way he farmed nine years ago in an attempt to improve his soil management.
The competition judges praised Mr Suddes’ willingness to try new methods and the way he integrated the livestock and arable aspects of his farming in order to boost soil health.
Mr Suddes commented, “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.”
The director of The Farm Carbon Cutting Tool Kit, Jonathon Smith, said, “It is fantastic to see such amazing farmers sharing their soil management stories. Yet again there were a lot of strong applicants and it was a hard decision on who to shortlist as well as to decide the final result.”
“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.”
Back in 2015, the Committee on Climate Change warned that large areas of farmland in the east of England could become unprofitable within a generation due to soil erosion and degradation, with farmland in the rest of the UK in danger of producing less food for the same reasons.
Britain is estimated to have lost 84% of its fertile top soil since 1850, mainly due to intensive agricultural practices and climate change.
Mr Suddes plans to hold a free farm walk from 6.00 to 8.30 pm on 5th July so that members of the public can see, and ask questions about, his environmentally friendly farming methods.
During the walk, Mr Suddes will officially receive his award from the competition’s sponsor Cotswold Seed.
Places on the walk can be booked by phoning 07875 356611 or 01579 372376.
(Featured image courtesy of Iain Merchant, from Flickr Creative Commons)