Norfolk’s top farm business champion James Chapman challenged fellow farmers and growers to enter the 2017 competition.

He was presented with the Norfolk County Farm Business champion trophy by Simon Evans, president of Aylsham Agricultural Show Association.

Mr Chapman had earlier welcomed about 120 members, guests and fellow competitors for a tractor and trailer tour of the extensive enterprises at Clarke’s Farm, Martham.

He said having his whole farm business put under intense scrutiny of two top judges from Scotland had been a challenging, stimulating and thoroughly worthwhile exercise. “I would urge you to enter the annual competition in 2017 – it really does help your business,” he said.

He will now defend his title – having won for the third time in the 37-year history of the annual competition. And ironically, a neighbour, Hirst Farms, will also qualify for the 2017 championship too.

Mr Chapman’s right-hand man, Jim Bailey, was presented with the Leonard Papworth Trophy for best farm manager.

During the two-hour tour of the 1,500-acre home farming operation, which includes 280 acres of woodland, Mr Chapman talked about the cropping including the 67ha of beet. His five-year average was 85t/ha.

One of best fields, ironically, had been the last drilled in late April – and it was outperforming all the others. A decision to tractor hoe had also been effective.

His winter barley, Maris Otter, has all been grown on contract for Adams & Howling, for the past seven or eight years. It averaged 7.5t/ha (three tonnes an acre) last year. And despite the heavy rain, the crop was still standing, much to his relief.

Other crops included 26ha of vining peas, grown for Anglian Pea Growers and Ardo, and 32ha of potatoes for Nelson County Potatoes. One of the group’s three partners, James Harrison, of EG Harrison, was producing high-quality seed to supply 17 commercial growers – ultimately to provide Kettle Crisps in Norwich.

Mr Chapman said that the farm was also working closely with another neighbour, Richard Hirst, who had also built up his pedigree Red Poll enterprise over the past eight years. This utilised much of the farm’s 200 acres of grazing.

Since last year, Mr Chapman took on another 800ha of arable land for the Burnley Hall estate, which almost borders the home farm. And now he is also responsible for managing the estate’s 3,500 acres from grade 1 to sand dunes, beach, grazing to sea defence works.

As a fourth generation farmer, Mr Chapman said that the family enterprise had grown to include livery to the Broadland Country Sports and property. Conservation, environment and good shoot management were also integral to the rounded diversified business, he said.

Robert Mitchell, chairman of the AASA’s farm business competition, thanked sponsors including Brown & Co, Anglia Farms, Bunn and Frontier. A hog roast provided by Richard and Debbie Lilwall rounded off a highly successful (and dry, for once) evening.

John Wootten President of Aylsham Show 2017

Aylsham Show President I am very pleased and honoured to be President of the Aylsham Show in 2017. We moved to Aylsham in 1978, but as a ship’s captain, my job took me abroad for several years. In 1982 my wife’s uncle, John Thornton, then local director of Barclays Bank was President of the Show and he persuaded me to get involved. When illness forced me to retire from the sea, I became Assistant Showground Director to Tom Elwes for several years until 1992. After some years building up Eastern Events, in 2010 I took over as Show Director from Jamie Jamieson. My grandfather farmed at Horsham St Faith and I like to think that he may have visited the show in its formative years. My wife Charlotte certainly competed at the Show in the 1960’s, majoring on the gymkhana. Up until the end of last year I was a director of Revival Productions who have staged very successful concerts in Blickling Park for the past 5 years. All of us who work for the Show have special moments. As Show Director I was always on site by 5 am – a magical time with the mist rising and everything just stirring. The stockmen are washing down their cattle, and sheep are calling to one another. But soon it is all go and you look at your watch and discover it is 2 o’clock in the afternoon before you know it. One of the things I will really enjoy as President is actually being able to see the Show and to meet and thank all the people who make it such a success. The Show is a fantastic organisation where people give their time and energy to raise money for local charities and I am very proud to be a part of it and to be President in 2017.

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