An Oakworth dairy farmer has been shortlisted for an accolade in recognition of his ‘green’ credentials.
Jonathan Sharp is among the finalists in an awards scheme celebrating best farming practices. The honours are the first of their kind launched by the Northern Farmer magazine, a sister publication of the Keighley News.
A high-powered panel of judges, meeting at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society headquarters, sifted through more than 60 nominations, and drew up three-strong shortlists in each of ten categories.
Winners will be revealed during an awards ceremony on March 6.
Mr Sharp, 43, of Tewitt Hall Farm, who is shortlisted in the green farmer of the year category, said: “I was very pleased when I discovered I was in the finals.
“The farm was originally owned by a businessman who set it out like parkland, with trees surrounding fields enclosed by hedges, which made it a beautiful place to live. During the past ten years or so, we have tried to further enhance the place while farming as efficiently as possible, making the most of what we’ve got and with the environment in mind.”
Among the first initiatives – with help from the Forest of Bradford project – was tree planting to screen a mobile phone mast in a corner of a field, followed by the creation of two ponds and provision of more trees and a hedge.
As part of an ‘Upland Entry Level Scheme’, 20 acres of land are managed for birds by selective grazing, and a dry stone wall is being restored.
Six years ago the farm received a Yorkshire Forward grant for a slurry separator, enabling more to be stored and applied at the appropriate time. A soil nutrition plan is being produced to ensure the right type and amount of fertiliser is being used.
And in November 2012, a 55KW wind turbine began operating at the site, with some of the energy powering the farm and the remainder staying in the national grid.
Since then, more than 140,000KW of power have been generated, and the farm’s electricity bills have been cut by about a third. And Mr Sharp said more measures are in the pipeline.
“Future projects include a biomass boiler to heat the two farm houses and the hot water for the dairy,” he said. “We’re also investing in robotics for milking, which in itself won’t impact on the environment, but the yield lift we believe we’ll get should reduce our carbon footprint.”