Discover our winners and their categories:
In the Social Innovation category:
Ailbhe GERRARD – Ireland
At Brookfield Farm in Ireland, Ailbhe's farming responsibilities include native woodlands, broadleaf plantations, multi-species grazing, certified organic sheep, honey-producing beehives, experimental tillage and cropping, agri-environmental measures including wild bird cover.
Given Ailbhe's commitment to sharing knowledge and promoting farm diversification, it is not surprising that Brookfield Farm also hosts the innovative Field Exchange programme. This programme consisted of a series of public open days in the summer of 2022, with events on creative farming topics such as land use, agroforestry, farm design, holistic planning, multi-functional crops, and facilitated by National Organic Training Skillnets (NOTS).
Field Exchange was developed by Ailbhe and collaborators, including his brother, artist John Gerrard, as a creative approach to the challenges facing farming systems today as a result of climate change.
The aim is to give farmers and the public fresh eyes and ideas for addressing site-specific farming challenges, to promote farmer autonomy and to reduce reliance on prescriptive 'one size fits all' advice. As we know, without creativity there can be no innovation, so creativity is a prerequisite for climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture.
In the Energy category:
David PAILLAT – France
In the category Agricultural Works Companies:
EDT PERSPECTIVE – France
The EDT PERSPECTIVE association, created in 2006 in the Hauts-de-France region, and grouping together 14 agricultural work companies, is ISO 14001 v2015 certified (international environmental standard). These men and women, driven by the same motivation to be a player in sustainable development, to be professional in the service they provide, and to develop a health and safety culture, have set about implementing a management system certified by the ISO 14001 standard. Concerned about their environment, they have embarked on this bold, voluntary and innovative approach! The approach combines a reduction in environmental impact and an improvement in the organisation, and although the ISO 14001 standard focuses on the environment, the approach also integrates health and safety at work.
The members of the association must first of all be exemplary in controlling the environmental risks of their activities, before being able to disseminate alternative solutions to farmers to support the agro-ecological transition. The innovation in 2022 is to achieve the capacity to cover a wide range of services in the Hauts-de-France geographical area.
In the New markets category:
Marine & Jean Sébastien SCHILS – France
In the Environmental Innovation category:
Ray Ó Foghlú – Ireland
Ray works as the agri-environment programme coordinator for Hometree, a land trust in Ireland. He now owns a small farm of ten hectares of biodiversity-rich grassland, hazel and oak trees. He works alongside three other Hometree employees. They are all landowners, mostly smallholders growing vegetables. As an organisation, their aim is to create permanent native forests and restore ecological function by working with rural communities. They are integrated into their communities and see their neighbours/farmers as key stakeholders in their work.
In 2020, at the beginning of the containment, Ray and one of his partners wrote a proposal and submitted it to the Irish Department of Agriculture. In this document, they proposed to provide farmers with technical and financial support to plan and implement farm woodland elements that complement their farming system.
This proposal resulted in the design and implementation of a comprehensive system for assessing, planning and integrating trees into agricultural environments. They are working with twelve farms, all of which operate a cow-calf system. The twelve farmers have chosen a large tree planting option (up to 15,000 trees) and a small tree option (3,000 trees). These options take the form of woodland, windbreaks and riparian areas.
They have been successful in bringing about positive ecological changes, which are complementary to these farmers' systems. Importantly, their initiative has also contributed to farmers' income and job satisfaction.
In the category Animal welfare:
Nick COTTER – Ireland
Nick Cotter grew up and then worked on his family's farm in the South West of Ireland. Like his parents before him, Nick raises sheep in a sustainable and natural environment. He set up the Cotter Organic Lamb project and ensures the quality of his sheep, which are fed on his own 100% natural grass. This has led to several awards in Ireland and work with some of the region's leading chefs.
As a result, he developed software that allows farmers to accurately track the needs of the animal, so that they can switch from general treatment with anti-parasite drugs to targeted treatment. This allows only those animals that really need it to be treated. These results are more than convincing. This is because this selective treatment software is based on the scientific principle that parasites are not distributed evenly, but according to the Pareto principle, better known as the 80/20 rule - 80% of the parasites are found in about 20% of the animals, which means that at any given time a high proportion of animals do not need treatment. The results showed an average 40% reduction in drug consumption, which is a game changer in terms of farm sustainability, but also environmentally for all of us!
It is reassuring to note that these results were achieved without any loss of performance on the partner farms.
And this year's special jury award:
Roland VAN ASTEN – Netherlands
Roland and his brother and sister run the Van Asten Group, which has invested a lot of time and energy in improving pig health and feeding efficiency for piglets and sows.
Liquid fermentation' was therefore a key theme that has resulted in huge savings on feed costs and antibiotic use. In the near future, it will bring us additional benefits, as this technology allows us to reduce the use of imported soya products and replace them with locally grown protein feed.
The Van Asten family has been working on setting up a system and acquiring the knowledge needed to achieve a consistently successful fermentation. As they gain experience, Roland and his brother and sister are investigating, through several on-farm trials and daily practice, how best to use fermentation and what effects the fermented feed has on the pigs. They are constantly expanding the range of products they ferment on their farm. They have fermented rapeseed, peas, soybean meal, wheat, barley, rye, wheat bran, soybean bran, spelt bran.
Since using the addition of lactic acid bacteria in the first week after birth, followed by the inclusion of 10% microbial fermented cereals in the diet before birth, they have seen a marked improvement in the health of the suckling piglet as well as in the fermentation in the nursery and in the sows: less mortality in the farrowing phase, but also less mortality after weaning, and fewer litters with diarrhoea.
In addition, the use of preventive antibiotics (as used until 2021) is completely stopped. In total, mortality in farrowing has decreased by 5.5% and by 1.1% after weaning. 3-4% are directly related to the feeding of fermenting feed to sows, the nursery and the suckling piglets in the sow.