Harriet Ross wins Young Farmer Award

Farmer Harriet Ross who grew up on the family arable farm in Aberdeenshire, has won Farmers Weekly’s Young Farmer of the Year Award.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 10:06 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 10:06 am
Ben Lowe; David Green AET; Harriet Ross and Chris Gordon, Savills. (Photo - Chris Watt)
Ben Lowe; David Green AET; Harriet Ross and Chris Gordon, Savills. (Photo - Chris Watt)

Although Harriet (29) was encouraged to pursue a non-agricultural degree, she found her way back to farming after realising her passion for the sector.

After graduating she spent several years working as a farming consultant, leaving the role in July in order to fully commit to her agriculture enterprises.

Now, alongside partner Ben, she owns a successful pig farm, manages what used to be her parents’ arable enterprise, runs a livery diversification, and holds a farm tenancy from the Aberdeen Endowments Trust.

She employs six full-time staff, has 7,500 pigs at any one time and farms 485 hectares in total.

In 2019, Harriet and Ben were among a number of applicants who applied to Aberdeen Endowments Trust for a short limited-duration tenancy at Newseat of Drumbreck.

Harriet said: “When we found out we had been successful we were initially shocked but delighted to have been granted the opportunity. This gave us the foothold to embark on a long held ambition to farm in our own right.”

This year, Harriet also took over the management of her parents’ neighbouring farming business, covering 235 ha of mainly arable land and growing wheat, oilseed rape, oats and barley.

At the same time they had been contracting for another owner, and after harvest 2020 they approached him to ask about a joint venture.

Instead, in February 2021, he offered them the chance to buy it, partly based on the strength of their existing working relationship.

Harriet has impressively combined multiple enterprises that fully complement each other, showing good knowledge and a logical decision-making process.

The more regular income from the pigs helps support the arable system, the manure is used instead of fertiliser, and the land is used to grow food for the pigs, more than halving the food costs. Meanwhile, the unit’s poorer land is utilised by the livery business.

CLA East regional director and independent judge said: “Harriet has worked hard to establish a sustainable and profitable business that is ready to adapt.”