A Welshpool farmer is in the running to be named grassland farmer of the year after scooping a top award at this week's virtual Royal Welsh Show.

Marc Jones, of Trefnant Hall, Berriew, took top honours in the 2021 All Wales Grassland Management Competition, with judges paying tribute to the operation's "encyclopaedic knowledge of the physical and financial aspects of the business" and efficient nutrient management processes.

While Mr Jones would normally collect his trophy at the Royal Welsh Show in Llanelwedd, the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society said they were nonetheless "delighted" that this year’s competition could go ahead despite pandemic restrictions.

With the help and support of his father David, Marc runs a herd of 700 Aberdeen Angus dairy cross beef cattle as well as a flock of 500 NZ Romney cross ewes plus 130 retained ewe lambs on 194 usable ha (480 acres) of rented land on two units ranging from 185 to 340m (600-1,100ft) above sea level.The Judges reported:

"With Trefnant Hall, the overall livestock output is a highly impressive tonne of liveweight per hectare," said the judges.

"By adopting the system, and as a result of the efficient production and utilisation of forage, the farm has slashed costs whilst achieving enviable physical and financial output.

"Concentrates have, in effect, been eliminated from the sheep flock as well as beyond the calf rearing phase for the cattle, leading to a truly grass and forage based farming system."

The farm has also recorded an estimated Carbon footprint of 7.92kg CO₂ per kg of lamb and 10.37kg per kg of beef in a recent evaluation conducted by HCC compared with national average values of 10.08kg and 14.05kg for lamb and beef respectively.

"Particularly noteworthy were efficient nutrient management, the adoption of novel forage species and grass seeds mixtures to cope with the susceptibility of the farm to drought, the effective use of rotational grazing, regular plate meter measurement of grass and the production of high quality silage as well as the reliance on fodder cropping which enabled the successful out wintering of livestock," they added.

"Added to these were a highly commendable flexibility and adaptability in both outlook and practice, an encyclopaedic knowledge of the physical and financial aspects of the business, hitting premium markets and securing contracts to safeguard prices and the highly efficient use of labour."

Marc will be presented with The Federation Perpetual Trophy as well as £250, and will now move ahead to enter the British Grassland Society’s ‘Grassland Farmer of the Year Competition 2021’.

Charlie Morgan, FWGS Secretary added: "After the disappointment of the Covid-enforced cancellation of the 2020 competition, the judging panel were privileged to visit four excellent grassland farmers and we are grateful to the finalists for their hospitality and the excellent tours of their farms.

"The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society are delighted that this year’s competition could be adjudicated during the Covid 19 pandemic and would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank everyone who participated in the competition, including the judges, the sponsor HSBC and the Federation of Welsh Grassland Societies for their continued commitment and support in running such an outstanding competition."