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Perkins celebrates fifty years of support for the agricultural written word as POTF 2022 winners announced

By 7th November 2022April 17th, 2024No Comments
NewsPerkins Power on the Farm

Oli Mark and James Andrews have been announced as the two winners of the Perkins Power on the Farm Award for 2022.

Now the longest-running award from the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists, Power on the Farm recognises and rewards the best and most engaging pieces of writing about ‘power on the farm’ published in the UK’s rich and varied agricultural press over the previous 12 months.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in the same year as the 90th anniversary of Perkins Engines, the award is highly anticipated by the membership and attracts a generous slew of entries.

“Despite the name, it’s never been an award that’s limited to tractor or machinery topics,” explains Annette Ward, of Perkins Global Marketing Communications. “Agricultural journalists, and the publications read across the industry – by farmers, advisers, distributors, dealers, engineers, manufacturers, policymakers and many, many more – perform an invaluable task that’s all too often taken for granted.

“Yet their words, and their impartial reporting of breaking developments, new products, emerging trends, innovative techniques and changing perspectives, are vital instruments in improving the flow and quality of information across the industry.

“We encourage entries that explore the theme of ‘power on the farm’ in its broadest sense, irrespective of the topic explored or explained by the article.”

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Award in 2022, Perkins added a new category to the award, Tech on the Farm, which Annette says reflects the growing importance of agri-tech at farm level.

“Data itself is now power,” she points out, “so we wanted to see how members were seeking out new stories to inform and enthuse grass-roots farmers about new technology, data-driven techniques and precision farming.

“In this new category, we’re not just looking for stories about tractor implement management or GPS steering systems, but stories that show how any application of technology can empower the farmer to perform more effectively and more productively.”

During its half-century, POTF has attracted entries from a wide cross-section of Guild members, including those writing about livestock, horticulture, arable and machinery topics. One of the most keenly contested Guild awards, judges consider between 20 and 30 entries to produce a shortlist selected for content, style, audience value and reader interest.

“There’s definite kudos in being a POTF winner,” acknowledges Annette, “but important as it is, it’s not just about peer recognition or the cash prize. We also reward the winners and runners-up with a day out to remember, at a top London venue.

“It’s fun for them but it’s also highly valuable for us, as the agricultural team in Perkins, to spend time with these journalists, to get to know them and the topics they write about. It keeps us in touch with our target audience and identifies areas or topics where we can share further information about new products, or imminent developments.”

For the 50th anniversary awards, the 2022 winner in the Power category was Farmers Weekly machinery editor Oli Mark; an article in the same publication secured freelancer James Andrews the Tech first place.

Oli’s winning article was a review of the Ineos Grenadier, the much-hyped ‘Land Rover that’s not a Land Rover’ replacement for the Defender. The award’s three judges – themselves well-versed in agricultural writing, communications and marketing – described Oli’s submission as:

‘One of two articles that fit the ‘traditional’ power brief, this was written in an entertaining fashion, while packed full of technical info about the Grenadier – ideally suited to 4×4 enthusiasts, which most farmers are!’

‘Oli’s a great writer, never failing to engage, here with a subject – the replacement for the Defender – that’s always of interest to anyone agricultural. Informative, grabby, fact-packed and well-crafted.’

The judges were particularly taken with Oli’s introduction, reproduced here, which they said made them ‘just want to read on’:

Pint-fulled pub chats are the source of many wildly ambitious business ideas, but few can claim to be as efficiently executed as that of the Grenadier 4×4.

Ineos Automotive, a side-shoot of the multinational chemicals behemoth owned by billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, has produced a production-ready vehicle from a beer mat sketch in just four years…a simple, solid Station Wagon named after the boozer in which it was born.

Oli Mark, ‘First Impressions: Ineos Grenadier 4×4’, Farmers Weekly, 16 July 2021

James, meanwhile, chose to share with his Farmers Weekly readers the story of a US tech entrepreneur, Craig Rupp, who founded start-up Sabanto with a single objective: to build and deliver the ‘holy grail’ of a truly driverless tractor.

Plenty of manufacturers have had a stab at building a driverless tractor – Case-IH has one based on a Magnum, Kubota’s attempt is a quirky-looking tracked contraption, and John Deere has a futuristic electric concept that develops more than 600hp.

[But] they’ve all been pipped to the post by a Chicago-based electronics engineer who has built a fleet of low-cost autonomous tractors using off-the-shelf components and put them straight into the field.

James Andrews, ‘Tractors adapted for driverless contracting’, Farmers Weekly, 19 March 2021

Judges called out James’ writing as

‘A captivating, lively and well-smithed article that perfectly encapsulates the new Power on the Farm tech category. Autonomous vehicles are of major interest in the agtech sector. This is a feature about a tech entrepreneur, combining great info about cost savings, how it works and how the technology might move beyond its initial US market. It is an article written with good pace and an intro that only encourages you to dig deeper.’

Two runners-up, Louise Impey and David Williams, were also cited for their articles. Louise told the story of a new, low-carbon fertiliser being put to the test on a British farm, while David took a closer look at an important ‘farmer aid’ – a cloud-connected, ‘smart’ weather station that detailed its real-life on-farm usage, and the time and cost savings delivered.

As for the ‘fun’? Runners-up, winners and judges were first given the opportunity to devise and create their very own, personalised blend of dry London gin at the Portobello Road Distillery, the capital’s foremost craft distillery. And what better to follow than lunch at the Corinthia, one of London’s most impressive five-star hotels. It hosts the first London restaurant for renowned Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge – who recorded a special video message for the Award guests – where a sumptuous, three-course meal was laid on to celebrate the Awards’ 50th anniversary and recognise the importance of strong, effective journalism in agriculture.

“If farming’s the world’s most important job, it needs supporting with the best communication. We’re proud to play our part in encouraging and rewarding talent,” says Annette.