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NFUS Announces Future Farmer Award Winners

by 5m Editor
1 August 2011, at 9:01am

SCOTLAND - Two enterprising and determined young farmers have been named as winner and runner-up in the 2011 Future Farmer Award.

Andrew Rennie of Gask Farm at Turriff and Alan Blackwood of Auldhouseburn Farm at Muirkirk were announced as winner and runner-up, respectively, for their entrepreneurial spirit in the production of cereals, pigs and energy (Andrew Rennie) and free-range eggs and Blackface sheep (Alan Blackwood).

The Future Farmer Award aims to showcase ways in which Scotland can produce food, fibre and wood products from farms and crofts in a commercially viable way while maintaining the natural capital of the land and minimizing the ecological footprint of farming activities. The Award is funded by the Elizabeth Murray Trust.

Both Andrew and Alan will receive a cash prize and a package of support so that they can share their farming vision with their fellow farmers.

Future Farmer Award Chairman, Michael Williams said: "This is the fourth year we have run the Future Farmer Award. The standard of the entries this year was really high and I am delighted that we have been able to choose a winner and runner-up whose creativity and commitment is so high.

"I would like to commend both for their exemplary farm practices; the high quality of husbandry I saw at Gask and Auldhouseburn is excellent."

Future Farmer Award 2011 Winner, Andrew Rennie of Gask Farm, Turriff who farms in partnership with his parents, John and Monica Rennie, said: "Winning the award is quite a shock, to be honest. Our vision for the farm has been to establish something that will enhance our farm business in a way that complemented our existing business of a pig unit. It's nearly 10 years since we decided to install the anaerobic digester on the farm and when we started I knew very little about AD. I've learned quite a lot since then!

"The AD system provides the final link in an environmentally friendly and renewable chain which enables us to raise our pigs using feed produced on the farm. The slurry produced by the pigs 'feeds' the digester, which powers the farm and produces excess energy which we sell to the grid. Finally, the digestate fertilises our fields, which begins the cycle of feed for the pigs again.

"Many people have visited the farm already to see how our system works and there are farmers in Scotland – and south of the border too – who have come to look at how to blend slurry with other wastes into an AD system such as ours. The satisfaction in seeing our ideas translate into other peoples’ farm systems and the confirmation of the benefits of our farming practices in winning the Future Farmer Award is great."

Future Farmer Award 2011 runner-up, Alan Blackwood said: "It is great to be recognised by the Future Farmer Award as having a well rounded and sustainable business. We run 1400 pure blackface ewes with an expanding free-range egg enterprise at Auldhouseburn, which go together very well.

"Along with our efforts to cover our high electricity needs with renewables, this should hopefully only improve. The Future Farmer Award creates an opportunity to demonstrate this to others and is a great asset to have to our name."