Grassland Farmer Competition

Grassland Farmer Competition

BGS statement

We are sorry to announce that we will not be holding the BGS Grassland Farmer of the Year competition in 2020.  We are unsure as to when the restrictions on non-essential travel and social distancing will be lifted and we do not want to put unnecessary pressure on our entrants and our local, regional and national judges.  We would like to thank our sponsors, Germinal, Nufarm and Yara, for their continued support and we look forward to working with them in 2021.  

If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our competition organiser, Sandra Pattinson (

'BGS Grassland Farmer of the Year' Competition

Congratulations to our 2019 Winner: John Martin, Greyabbey, Northern Ireland (sheep).

A list of previous winners, finalists and regional winners can be viewed here.

What is the competition all about?

The 'BGS Grassland Farmer of the Year' competition superseded the 'National Grassland Management Competition' in 2013.

It is designed to award the 'best' grassland farmer in the country; a farmer who demonstrates overall excellence in grassland management and is a successful contributor towards profitable and sustainable farming practices.  

The competition examines the farmer's approach to the following areas:

  • Grassland & Forage Policy - nutrient management, non-grass forages, weed control, re-seeding policy
  • Grazing & Forage Management - production from forage: grazing system/silage system, forage budgeting and forage quality, grass measurements and forage analysis, integration of grazing/ silage, stocking rate
  • Livestock Production & Welfare - production data, balance of bought-in feeds, replacement policy, welfare of livestock 
  • Environmental Issues - manure management, environmental management, soil resource management
  • Overall Impression - for example: use of resources, business sustainability/resilience
Download the full scoring criteria matrix here

What do I win?

The winner of this prestigious competition will receive a trophy and a cheque for £500. 

You will also be invited, with a guest, to our annual awards evening.

Competition Sponsorship

The British Grassland Society is indebted to Germinal, Nufarm and Yara for generously sponsoring this competition.

How can I enter?

The competition is open to all full BGS members and local society members.  The entrant can be based anywhere in the UK, providing they go through the correct application procedure (detailed below).

  • The first stage of the competition requires the local society to judge and put forward the winning farmer from their society for regional judging. The winner must complete Sections A and B of the entry form (click here to view the form). Full BGS members can also enter at this stage by completing Sections A and B of the entry form.
  • The Regional Council Member (click here for full list) will arrange to judge each of the local society winners within their region (this may only be one) and any full BGS members from their region who have entered.  The regional winner is then put forward for national judging and must complete the entry form in full (click here to view the form).
  • There can be a maximum of eleven regional entrants, which may vary year to year. The four national judges, plus the previous year’s winner will individually review each entrant based on their entry form.
  • The judges will hold a teleconference to evaluate and agree on the final three which they will visit.  Only at this stage will the national judges visit the farms. 

If you reach the final three of the competition you will not be allowed to enter the competition in the following year.

When will judging and the awards ceremony take place?

Dates for 2020

Local entries submitted to BGS and notified to Regional Council Member
Friday 12 June
Regional Council Members to notify BGS of regional winner
Friday 17 July
Deadline for regional winners full entry forms
Monday 27 July
National judges select the three finalists
Tuesday 4 July
National judges visit finalists farms
Wed 19 – Fri 21 August

Local societies in Wales must use the forms and deadlines set out by the Federation of Welsh Grassland Societies (FWGS) to find their local winners and Wales regional winner.

The awards evening will be held in October.  More details will be provided nearer the time. 

The Winner's Farm Walk takes place in June.

Who are the sponsors and judges?

The British Grassland Society is indebted to Germinal, Nufarm and Yara for generously sponsoring this competition. Each sponsor organisation provides a judge for the competition to work alongside a head judge and the previous year’s competition winner. Let’s meet our competition sponsors and judges!

Helen Mathieu (Germinal)
“Germinal are a market leading specialist seed company producing high performance forage and amenity seeds for the agricultural and amenity sectors. The product portfolio includes the internationally renowned Aber® High Sugar Grass (HSG) range and a broad range of species including forage brassicas, clovers, chicory, plantain and maize. Working closely with research partner, the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University, Germinal fund leading research into sustainable variety development. A dedicated Research Station with a progressive plant science programme of trials and development work also provides valuable industry data on innovative forage species and cropping systems. 
We are proud to sponsor the BGS Grassland Famer of the Year competition highlighting best practice in grassland management”.  Helen Mathieu, Germinal GB Limited

To learn more about Germinal, please click here.

Brent Gibbon (Nufarm)
“The grassland team at Nufarm are delighted to sponsor the Grassland Farmer of the Year Competition alongside Yara and Germinal.  Nufarm is keen to help to identify exemplary grassland farmers whose management plan features a weed control strategy and who, in turn, would be able to help champion the benefits to all livestock producers and help them to make more milk and or meat from grass, the cheapest form of feed”. Brent Gibbon, Nufarm 

To learn more about Nufarm please click here.

Philip Cosgrave (Yara)
"Yara has long recognised that whether growing grass for grazing or looking to reduce feed costs through better silage management, choosing the right balance of nutrients applied at the right time plays a vital role in growing grass successfully  - for both yield and quality.
This is why from a Research and Development Programme over many years we have developed a complete range of grassland fertilizers, management and timing advice to enable our farmer customers to balance the nutrient requirement of their grass. Quality fertilizers that provide the balance between what a farm has, and what the grass needs to deliver the yield and quality the livestock farmer wants – whether for dairy, beef or sheep – and whether for grazing or housed feeding.
We believe ‘if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it’ and soil and herbage analysis has a role to play in choosing the right fertilizer for the farm. This is clearly the ‘attention to detail’ philosophy held by members of the BGS and why we are particularly pleased to have the opportunity to be involved with the prestigious Grassland Farmer of the Year Competition". Philip Cosgrove, Grassland Agronomist, Yara UK and Ireland.

To learn more about grassland at Yara please click here. 
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Hugh McClymont (Head Judge)
BGS are delighted to announce that Hugh McClymont has joined the panel as our head judge. Hugh is Farm Manager at SRUC's Crichton Royal Farm.

John Martin (2019 winner)
Sheep farmer John Martin of Greyabbey, Northern Ireland won the BGS Grassland Farmer of the Year competition in 2019.  John lambs 680 ewes split between two periods: mid-January to mid-February and mid-March to early April.  Replacement lambs are homebred, with the emphasis on a smaller more prolific ewe to suit an intensive, rotationally grazed system.  Finished lambs are sold off grass by the end of November and, with an overall stocking rate of 13 ewes/ha, the farm regularly produced 500 kg of lamb carcass per hectare.  John has worked with the Agrifood and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Northern Ireland as a co-researcher to develop easier care sheep systems while also improving profitability. 





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