Published on 23rd November 2014
Claire King, who organises the Perkins Power on the Farm Award presentation, likes to find a different and exciting format to entertain the winners and guests each year, and 2014 was no exception.
A power boat ride up the Thames - and not many people will have done that in smart dresses or jacket and tie - followed by a dining experience in the kitchen of the Gilbert & Scott restaurant at the St Pancras Hotel, made it a memorable day.
Calm before the storm: Annette Ward, Corporate & Marketing Communications Manager at Perkins Engines Co with Mervyn Bailey of Profi International enjoy a gentle cruise past Westminster Palace...
... before all hell breaks loose as a full-throttle blast gets (from left) Jane Craigie, Olivia Midgley, Howard Venters, Annette Ward and Mervyn Bailey grinning from ear to ear!
It is a measure of the Perkins team's long-standing and enthusiastic support of the Guild and its activities that while continuing to promote the journalism award, the off-highway engines specialist continues to help fund the website and pitched in as one of three major sponsors of IFAJ Congress 2014.
"We’re delighted to be working so closely with the British Guild to deliver what I know will be a fantastic showcase for British agriculture," said Nigel Baseley, marketing director. "More than 200 journalists from around the world will be treated to a packed programme of events to ensure they truly experience the diversity and innovation our small isle is delivering on a daily basis."
And so to the results: a certificate and winner's cheque for £2000 was presented to Olivia Midgley for her article on the Renewable Heat Incentive, published in Farmers Guardian.
"Olivia’s article was a tightly-written, engaging and well-researched piece that really conveyed the sea-change that investing in renewable energy has brought to a farm enterprise," said Nigel Baseley on behalf of his fellow judges, Adrian Bell and last year's winner Tom Allen-Stevens.
Despite being criticised by industry leaders, the RHI is working wonders for the Northants poultry farmer featured in Olivia's article. Energy outgoings have been cut by half, feed costs trimmed through faster growth rates and bird welfare much improved thanks to a better poultry shed environment.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to have won the Perkins Power on the Farm award - and was even more thrilled when I found out what my prize was," said Olivia. "I never expected to be tearing down the Thames in a speedboat, nor tucking into an eight-course lunch at Gilbert and Scott! It was a truly memorable day, thank you to the Guild and Nigel, Annette and Claire at Perkins."
The runner-up prize was awarded to Mervyn Bailey, joint editor of Profi International, for an article on a multi-cut approach to silage-making on an organic dairy farm in south-west Wales.
With bought-in feed costing £400/t, the farm invests in high capacity silage-making machinery to make at least four cuts a year and capture forage when in peak condition. Grass conditioning is sacrificed for maximum cutting width and output and a forage wagon brings grass to the clamp where a wheeled loader makes a thorough job of ensiling it.
Mervyn's detailed article explores the decisions made by the farm team and through their experience highlights how machinery costs, performance and availability need to be balanced.
"It's very pleasing to have my work recognised in this way, so I'm delighted to have won this prize thanks to Perkins and the Guild," said Mervyn. "The Gilbert & Scott experience - and the steak in particular - was fantastic and a real treat to hear from a chef with such passion for food quality."
Read Olivia's winning article
Read Mervyn's runner-up article