WISBOROUGH GREEN and Petworth farmers took coveted top honours in this year’s Petworth and District Agricultural Association’s (PDAA) best farms competition.
Father and son partnership Richard and Mark Chandler from Moor Farm at Petworth were awarded first prize for the best farm over 500 acres and were also declared the overall champion farm.
Clive Stickland from Burchetts Farm at Wisborough Green won the best farm under 500 acres.
Throughout the year PDAA holds a variety of on-farm competitions, from best growing crops to the best farm contests.
This year, classes were judged by representatives from the Cranleigh and South Eastern Agricultural Society who spent several days visiting farms and had the difficult job of separating many well-managed crops and farms.
The mild winter and favourable weather this year presented excellent conditions for crops and have given the area’s farmers the opportunity to present excellent-looking crops full of potential.
This made judging an even more difficult task than usual and judge Peter Knight said: “After many years of judging, this has been the most difficult competition I have had to judge due to the outstanding quality of all the entries.”
He and fellow judge Mervyn Flux were impressed by the high standard of the farming at Burchetts Farm, in particular Clive’s knowledge of business costings and margins.
Peter added: “Clive clearly bases all decisions around sound financial information and this enables him to push his business forward on a sound and profitable footing.”
And commenting on Moor Farm, the judges said: “Richard and Mark impressed with the outstanding quality of crops across a very large acreage and diverse soil types.
“This is combined with diversification into enterprises which complement the landscape and improve habitat for all wildlife across the farm.”
Peter said he was also impressed with the level of investment taking place, showing commitment to farming for the long term.
Richard and Mark farm around 3,500 acres of combinable crops in the Petworth area, using a mixture of minimum tillage and zero tillage techniques with a team of three full time staff. Crops are grown for quality markets such as bread and biscuit-making wheat, all of which are stored at the various farms they manage including a new 1,800-tonne grainstore at Moor Farm, Petworth where the business is centred.
The farm backed up its ‘best farm’ prize with a good harvest and is now enjoying the dry weather in September to make another excellent start sowing next year’s crops. Richard and Mark also farm with a strong environmental emphasis and have been particularly pleased with the rise in farmland bird numbers this year.
Prizes will be awarded at the PDAA’s annual ploughing match on Saturday, September 27, at Malham Farm, Wisborough Green by permission of Mr C Wates.
Around 50 ploughmen are expected to compete, including a large turnout of vintage and classic machinery. Admission is free and spectators are welcome, with ploughing starting at 9am followed by the annual lunch and prize-giving.
For all the results, see this week’s Observer (September 18).