Innovative farm businesses listed among best in the country

Farming innovators in Suffolk and Essex are celebrating recognition among the finalists in a national industry awards scheme.

The British Farming Awards aim to showcase “innovative, determined and extraordinary farmers across all sectors”.

The winners will be announced at the National Conference Centre in Birmingham on October 21.

And there will be Suffolk and Essex representatives among the finalists.

Jonnie Yewdall is commercial director at PBD Biotech, which has been shortlisted for the British Farming Awards – Credit: PBD Biotech

One of them is Bury St Edmunds-based firm PBD Biotech, which has been shortlisted in the Agri-Tech Innovator of the Year category.

The company has developed a rapid new test which it says has the potential to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and Johne’s Disease

Actiphage can accurately identify live mycobacteria in a sample of blood or milk, enabling detection of bTB and Johne’s Disease at an early stage of infection, giving farmers and vets the information needed to manage the disease.

Commercial director Jonnie Yewdall said: “We are delighted to be shortlisted for this award, which is so widely respected in the industry.

“Bovine TB is a devastating disease but Actiphage provides the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Meanwhile, Gail and Craig Williamson of Barn Farm Drinks, at Bradfield near Manningtree in Essex, have been shortlisted in the Diversification Innovator of the Year category.

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The soft fruit growers launched the firm in 2017 after identifying a gap in the market for farm-pressed fruit juices.

They were helped by EU and UK government grant funding, which allowed the purchase of new clarification machinery which moved the business into new areas of craft juice development.

And they continued to innovate during the Covid lockdown, launching three new carbonated drinks after consultation with their customers: a rhubarb and apple pressé, strawberry and cucumber pressé and a lemonade pressé.

On the award shortlisting, Mr Williamson said: “We are blown away really. It is nice to be recognised for all the efforts of the Barn Farm team – it is a collective effort.

“Without public funding would not have been able to take this major step to changing our core business.

“Throughout the Covid shutdown when the shops were closed down we were still in contact with our customers and they asked us if we could come up with some new drinks.

“That has meant we have jointly developed some new products with our customers. Our success is shared success between our customers and the farm staff.”

Three new products launched by Barn Farm Drinks during lockdown – Credit: Barn Farm Drinks

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