Farmers Weekly Awards 2022: Contractor of the 12 months finalists

Farmers Weekly Awards 2022: Contractor of the 12 months finalists

Balancing trade expansion with sustainable funding – in opposition to a backdrop of hovering equipment and diesel prices – has been key to the good fortune of this yr’s 3 Contractor of the 12 months finalists.

The judging workforce visited every of the finalists for a three-hour interview and excursion in their trade.

See the entire class finalists for the 2022 Awards

The finalists:

Glover Agricultural Contractors
Hill Space Farm, Norfolk

Martin Hays Contracting
Most sensible Farm, Derbyshire

Vince Janes
Winterwell Barn, Gloucestershire

The judges:

John Fraser
Remaining yr’s winner

Oliver Mark
Farmers Weekly’s equipment editor

Jill Hewitt
Unbiased pass judgement on

Glover Agricultural Contractors

Hill Space Farm, West Dereham, Norfolk

Farmers Weekly Awards 2022: Contractor of the 12 months finalists

Sam Glover © Jason Bye

A versatile, open-minded solution to increasing their vary of products and services has noticed the Glover circle of relatives’s agricultural contracting workload surge because it was once established in 2009, when it obtained 200ha of sugar beet harvesting and mixing from a retiring native contractor.

Nevertheless it was once son Sam’s arrival within the trade that equipped an actual shot within the arm, as he landed a 500t/yr contract baling take care of Snetterton energy station that has due to this fact ballooned to a fifteen,000t/yr undertaking throughout 3 counties and a 50-mile radius.

This sees straw purchased consistent with bale, transported from area to plant by means of the company’s wagons, and bought consistent with tonne, with the 15-year contract offering source of revenue steadiness that has allowed funding in different products and services.

Maximum lately, this has noticed the addition of a deal to develop 100ha of carrots, along 10,000ha of spraying; 2,000ha of sugar beet harvesting, which has doubled previously yr; 1,000ha of mixing with a couple of Claas Lexions; and lime spreading – plus a 500ha contract farming settlement.

All of that is predominantly controlled by means of Sam and his assistant Harry (elderly 25 and 24, respectively), with their younger enthusiasm reliably remodeling small jobs into large ones over a abruptly increasing territory.


With hasty growth comes the power of shopping for and keeping up a equipment fleet to compare.

This now comprises 9 tractors, maximum of which do 2,000 hours every year and are changed each and every 3 years. Through that time they’re totally paid for and nonetheless inside of their guaranty quilt.

The Glovers favour this systematic solution to replacements to deal with residual price, get rid of the chance of getting to take in pricey breakdown prices, and aid you appropriately calculate prices – together with depreciation.

The similar applies to the Agrifac sprayer, which is purchased new and stored in guaranty – albeit over the process six years.

Alternatively, the trade takes a unique manner with the self-propelled harvesters. The pairs of Lexion combines and Roper beet harvesters come second-hand, leaving any individual else to abdomen the preliminary price and savage early-life depreciation.

This manner is made more uncomplicated as a result of there’s an on-site workshop run as a separate entity by means of some other circle of relatives member, offering a 24-hour cell call-out carrier to stay the equipment working and caring for common upkeep and out-of-season overhauls.

Those prices are logged, permitting the workforce to observe reliability and resolve the timing of replacements.

Gasoline information may be recorded, and a Quartix car monitoring app is used to log hours, distance travelled and site of kit for control functions.

Personnel and consumers

Having as much as 200 annual consumers brings its personal logistical demanding situations, so conversation is essential in keeping up relationships – irrespective of whether or not the inside track is excellent or dangerous.

Two admin workforce paintings from a purpose-built place of job block, whilst there are 10 full-time operators and as much as 8 extra at top occasions.

The corporate has additionally began working an apprenticeship scheme in collaboration with Easton School, the place one scholar every yr {couples} their agricultural degree research with sensible revel in.

New workforce get an worker manual and a complete induction, and there are annual value determinations that permit each workers and executives to present comments at the yr’s paintings.

That is set thru HR device that still lets in workforce to log their hours every day – getting rid of the demanding situations of managing paper timesheets.

And Sam and Harry behavior common “toolbox talks” that quilt subjects from working out chance tests to reminders about overhead powerlines and recommendations on gasoline potency.

What the judges say

A willingness to tackle new alternatives and spend money on the equipment required to take advantage of them has delivered spectacular expansion for the Glover circle of relatives’s contracting trade.



Glover Agricultural Contractors abstract

The judges like

  • Skilled solution to workforce control with annual value determinations and on-line timesheets
  • Toolbox talks and common coaching stay workforce taken with well being and protection
  • Day-to-day and weekly equipment exams
  • Massive buyer base and extensive vary of products and services
  • Apprenticeship scheme with Easton School encouraging new entrants

Farm details

  • Number one products and services introduced: Cultivating, drilling, fertiliser spreading, spraying, root crop and cereal harvesting, baling, drainage
  • Major buyer base: Cereal and root crop growers
  • House lined: Norfolk and Cambridgeshire

The numbers

  • 200 consumers every year
  • 13 years in trade
  • 10 full-time workforce
  • 10,000 litres diesel/week at top
  • 15,000 annual energy station baling tonnage

Martin Hays Contracting

Most sensible Farm, Rylah Hill, Bolsover, Derbyshire

Martin Hays

Martin Hays © Tim Scrivener

In spite of having no agricultural background, Martin Hays has been addicted to farming since observing a Ford 5000 and Kidd double-chop forager transparent a area of grass over his lawn fence.

He served an eight-year “apprenticeship” with an area contractor, prior to deciding to head it by myself with a Case IH 956XL, small sq. baler and flat-eight sledge.

His stage of carrier, even in the ones youth, speaks for itself, together with his second-ever buyer nonetheless at the books 27 years later.

Early good fortune with the baler resulted in additional investments in a plough, energy harrow and drill, however his large spoil got here in beating the contest to the acquisition of an umbilical spreading machine.

In doing so, he abruptly cornered the marketplace.

Slurry spreading has remained the spine of the trade, even though he continues to seek for techniques to beef up his providing with era equivalent to glide meters and nitrogen sensors.

In the end, this allowed him to shop for his backyard, tackle a 180ha farm tenancy and make bigger the contracting arm – maximum significantly with the addition of 2 large sq. balers and a mix that covers 400ha every year.

Different products and services have come and long past, with a contemporary effort to streamline the trade resulting in peripheral, much less winning paintings dropped and the related machines bought.

This has diminished the workload, minimised wasted go back and forth time, and higher profitability.


Martin has a laser-sharp focal point on his prices, which permits his to evaluate the value of each and every carrier he provides.

Each and every task is appropriately costed, and his spreadsheets repeatedly up to date to mirror any adjustments – whether or not or not it’s a 50p/ac variation between mowing mild and heavy grass, or the addition of a gasoline surcharge past his baseline £1/litre diesel worth.

As such, costs have a tendency to be raised once a year and, by means of his personal admission, he’s probably the most dearest contractors round – however that hasn’t deterred his consumers, who nonetheless really feel they get a excellent deal.

It is because he’s all the time on the lookout for alternatives so as to add price, whether or not or not it’s a weigher and moisture meter at the baler, or variable-rate nitrogen spreading the use of Isaria’s wing mirror-mounted CropXplorer.

Assessing nitrogen necessities in actual time method he now not depends upon consumers to offer maps and, at a value of simply £2/acre on best of his usual spreading fee, they simply wish to succeed in a modest yield upward push to have the benefit of it.

It’s no longer all about new era, even though. The final two-tractors got here second-hand, and Martin proudly claims to have by no means paid greater than £100,000 for one, even though his get to the bottom of is perhaps firmly examined over the approaching years.

This willingness to dip into the used marketplace for frontline machines can repay handsomely, with the newest funding, a Massey Ferguson with a little bit below 1,000 hours at the clock, coming in nearly £30,000 less expensive than purchasing new.

Additional financial savings are accomplished by means of finishing intermediate products and services in-house, reducing upkeep prices by means of 35p/clock hour when compared with committing to a complete broker carrier package deal.

He has additionally been in a position to faucet into grants to fund enhancements – maximum significantly with the development of a brand new spray retailer and wash-down space whole with rainwater harvesting machine.

Personnel and consumers

A number of of Martin’s 125 consumers were with him for greater than twenty years, and their loyalty demonstrates the impact he has made on their trade – each with regards to reliability and high quality of labor.

He employs two different participants of workforce, together with his son, Daniel, who’s taking up extra accountability for the baling facet of the trade. It additionally method Martin can stay hands-on – one thing consumers recognize, and he loves.

What the judges say

Martin’s unrivalled interest, hard-working mentality and sharp eye on prices, plus a prepared passion in new era, has noticed his contracting operation turn out to be an indispensable a part of his consumers’ companies.

Martin Hays Contracting abstract

The judges favored

  • Very sharp eye on prices
  • Seeks alternatives so as to add price to conventional products and services, continuously thru funding in new era
  • Streamlined his workload to prioritise probably the most winning products and services
  • Workshop abilities assists in keeping working prices low
  • Very shut dating with consumers solid over a few years

Farm details

  • Number one products and services introduced: Mowing, raking, baling, wrapping, slurry spreading, spraying, combining and fertiliser utility
  • Major buyer base: Arable and farm animals farms
  • House lined: As much as 20 miles from his base in Bolsover, Derbyshire

The numbers

  • 125 consumers
  • 27 years in trade
  • 3 participants of workforce
  • 1996 first yr of umbilical slurry spreading
  • 956XL first tractor owned

Vince Janes

Winterwell Barn, Northleach, Gloucestershire

Vince James

Vince James © Richard Stanton

Each arable area on Vince Janes’ books is handled as whether it is his personal, and the farms he works for are reaping the rewards with fewer weeds, higher yields and better income.

It’s the very best dating between buyer and contractor – made more uncomplicated by means of the truth that Vince specialises in whole-farm agreements, which account for 85% of his paintings and make allowance him to take a extra energetic position in agronomic determination making.

As such, he has turn out to be a one-stop store for his seven major consumers, providing the whole thing from equipment servicing to mix harvesting.

He began his trade after leaving a task on a large property and was once due to this fact introduced the chance to tackle its arable paintings because it transitioned to an natural machine.

Now not lengthy after, he bagged two extra typical arable farming contracts, and phrase of his good fortune in knocking again blackgrass resulted in some other neighbouring farm of 400ha signing him up for spraying and mixing.


Shrewd equipment purchasing choices have turn out to be an indicator of the trade, with Vince’s prepared passion within the second-hand marketplace – and willingness to do a number of homework – paying dividends in purchasing, promoting and servicing.

Examples of canny purchases are all over the place. His first mix, a New Holland CX8.60, got here for £65,000 and, after 11 seasons’ paintings, was once bought for £55,000.

And his first tractor, a 160hp John Deere 6920S, got here for £33,000 on 3,000 hours and left 5,000 hours later for £27,500.

The truth that Vince loves to transparent any finance briefly method the equipment is paid for, so it may be bought and upgraded simply if sexy acquire or promoting alternatives come about all of a sudden.

Machines with prime early depreciation, such because the combines, all the time come second-hand – leaving any individual else to take the edge out of the fee – however grain trailers and others implements that lose little price are continuously purchased new.

The 2 frontline tractors are new too, with finance bills limited to a most of 3 years.

In those circumstances, with a Fendt 720 and 828, prolonged five-year warranties had been regarded as justifiable – a choice that has paid dividends given the 828 is on its moment substitute engine.

Servicing, upkeep and fabrication is finished within the workshop to stay restore expenses down, and Vince avoids an excessive amount of diary-filling iciness paintings in favour of time spent taking a look after the equipment.

This protects working his apparatus ragged on lesser paid common contracting jobs and assists in keeping it in the most productive imaginable situation for the remainder of the yr – with out the price of using a broker for the task.

Personnel and consumers

Vince’s trade depends upon common conversation together with his consumers and their agronomists, permitting him to play crucial position in determination making. He continuously joins in-field agronomy conferences and is helping form long run cropping plans.

Bills are made quarterly, with the phrases of the contracts differing in lengths, from one to 5 years. This gives the safety of assured paintings and lets in Vince to form his equipment and workforce investments accordingly.

A gasoline worth adjuster is factored into the agreements, and diesel is metered and recorded for each and every task. This will then be equipped to any consumers which can be fascinated with carbon counting.

Vince is made up our minds to construct a sustainable trade, which means that balancing paintings with circle of relatives commitments – each for him and his two major workforce participants, plus some other 4 all through harvest.

Wet days are taken as a chance to unwind, households consult with the fields, and iciness workloads are stored somewhat mild to minimise the chance of burnout.

What the judges say

Vince is a perfectionist who takes nice delight within the carrier he delivers to his arable consumers, and the consequences they succeed in as a result.

Vince Janes abstract

The judges favored

  • Hobby in agronomy serving to beef up consumers’ yields and scale back weed burden
  • Prepared eye on equipment buying and servicing prices minimises depreciation
  • Mindful of work-life stability
  • Impeccably maintained equipment fleet
  • Phrase-proud workforce fit Vince’s consideration to element

Farm details

  • Number one products and services introduced: Cultivating, drilling, spraying, combining, baling, mowing
  • Major buyer base: Seven major arable consumers, predominantly whole-farm contracts
  • House lined: 800ha whole-farm contracts, 400ha contract spraying and mixing, plus some common farm contracting – all inside of 10 miles of the backyard at Northleach, Gloucestershire

The numbers

  • 7 major consumers
  • 14 years in trade
  • 3 common participants of workforce
  • 6920 first tractor owned
  • 800ha of whole-farm contracts

Sponsor’s message

Rural Asset Finance logo

Rural Asset Finance sponsors Contractor of the 12 months 2022.

“It was once simple to look why all 3 finalists are on the best in their sport, demonstrating the innovation and forward-thinking required to conquer
the demanding situations confronted by means of farm contractors around the nation.”

Matthew Sensible, Rural Asset Finance

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