The 2023 Peewit Award for Excellence in Ecological Farming was presented to drill specialist Claydon Drill.
Presented by the Suffolk Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (SFWAG) it is in recognition for the design and development of machinery that enables farmers to establish crops in a commercially and ecologically viable way.
Anna Beames, chief executive of SFWAG stated: “At a time when so much discussion is taking place about the environmental issues which are impacting the world it is very pleasing to note that where farming was once regarded as a major part of the problem it is now rightly recognised as a key part of the solution. This was confirmed at the recent COP28 summit in Dubai, where global leaders acknowledged the profound potential of agriculture and food systems to drive powerful, innovative responses to climate change.
“The Suffolk Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group was born from farmers with a deep understanding of integrated farming which considers both the environment and wildlife, so we are keen to recognise those who actively seek to reduce the industry’s environmental impact. Our annual awards highlight exceptional examples of ecologically sustainable agriculture which restore, protect and create high levels of Natural Capital to deliver ‘public goods’ whilst profitably producing healthy, nutritional food.
“Our theme for 2023 was ‘Sustainable Farm Solutions’ and Claydon Drills is an extraordinary example of that. Because of that we were delighted to round off Suffolk FWAG’s series of farm walks last year with a visit to the Claydon’s arable farm at Wickhambrook in Suffolk. The farm has been in the Claydon family for nearly 100 years, with Jeff and his brother Frank farming there for more than 50 of those years; during that time the business has grown from 100ha to 250ha, plus 90ha which is contract farmed and some contracting.
“Soils are the farming industry’s greatest asset, yet many have been degraded to a point where now they merely provide a growing medium which depends on high levels of artificial inputs to maintain productivity. Jeff addressed this key issue more than two decades ago by developing the Claydon Opti-Till® System, a holistic approach to crop establishment which delivers consistent, high-yielding crops at low cost for maximum profitability. Crucially, it also enables farmers to become more ecologically sustainable.
“During our visit to the Claydon farm we were able to see the massive improvements which this approach has brought about over the last 22 years, including high numbers of worms and staggering levels of soil organic matter. Worms may not be sexy, but they are the unsung heroes of the farming world and instrumental in changing soils for the better, so as one of their greatest exponents is Claydon Drills is a deserving winner of the Suffolk FWAG 2023 Peewit Award.”
Jeff Claydon, who developed the company’s Opti-Till system in 2001 to reduce production costs without impacting output, said: “I am delighted to receive this prestigious award from Suffolk FWAG at a time when farming is under increasing environmental and economic pressures.”