Winners of the Power on the Farm award were treated to a day at the Olympic Games in the year that marked the 40th year of the award being sponsored by Perkins Engines Company Ltd of Peterborough.
The surprise treat – meeting at St Pancras station in London made it hard to guess what Perkins had in store this year – also made it an extra special day for the award judges, Guild chairman Adrian Bell, 2011 winner machinery freelance Andy Collings, and Perkins marketing director Nigel Baseley.
Devon-based freelance Olivia Cooper (pictured above right with Nigel Baseley) took the top prize for an article published in Farmers Weekly that highlighted a growing skills shortage in the agricultural engineering sector. The article emphasised that the industry needs a steady flow of new talent with skills in electronics, software and diagnostics; without them, it will become increasingly difficult to properly maintain and repair farm equipment.
The judges said of the piece: “It raised some important and topical points and was written in a way that made a dry subject more interesting and engaging. It is clearly of great relevance to the industry and provided information which those looking to be involved in farm machinery would need to know.”
Olivia’s article notes that fewer colleges now offer the specialist training needed and those that do find it difficult to fund the increasingly high-tech equipment needed to give students experience of working on modern machinery. It also provided information on courses available to young people interested in this field.
The runner-up award went to the editor of Farmers Guardian, Emma Penny, for an article describing a new type of anaerobic digester needing only slurry to function that could offer farmers a cheaper, practical way of generating heat and power on-farm.
According to the judges: “The article presented an interesting proposition in a business-like and approachable style. It was full of facts but easy to read and will have made farmers think about the potential of this method of electricity generation in their own situation.”
The awards were presented at the Olympic park in east London by Nigel Baseley before a visit to the aquatics centre to see one of the synchronised diving finals.
Read Olivia’s winning article
Read Emma’s runner-up article