The top performing farms in grazing management and silage making have been celebrated at the Fermanagh Grassland Club’s annual dinner and awards evening.

The event – which brought members and guests together in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen – rewards the top farmers from results obtained from the 2022 growing season.

The guest speaker at the dinner was Jim Freeburn, who was Head of Beef and Sheep, Greenmount, before his retirement from the Department of Agriculture, Enterprise and Rural Affairs.

Announcing the results of the club’s grazing competition, Olwen Gormley – representing sponsors, Vaughan Trust – said they were delighted to again support this competition which was judged by Trevor Alcorn and David Henderson, who spent two days visiting the farms entered for the competition.

They reported a high standard of excellence across a diverse range of farms.

Olwen encouraged more farmers to take part in this competition in future years.

The results of the grazing competition were as follows.

Dairying Section: 1 (Stevenson Cup), Kevin McGrade, Trillick; 2, Nigel Graham, Kinawley; 3, Gordon Elliott, Kesh.

Non-Dairying Section: 1 (Todd Cup), William Egerton, Rosslea; 2, Roy Mayers, Ballyreagh; 3, Connor Donaldson, Lisgoole Estate Farm.

The overall winner was William Egerton.

The Silage Competition was sponsored by Barenbrug, and its UK Commercial Manager, David Linton, attended the dinner to speak about the award and announce results.

He said Barenbrug have been sponsoring the competition for 17 years and supported excellence in producing top-quality fodder.

The results were as follows.

Big Bale Silage: 1(Hermon Cup), Bertie Swan; 2, David Scott; 3, Roy Mayers.

Clamp or Pit Silage: 1(Tisdall Cup), Robert Irvine; 2, James Murphy; 3 (tie), Gary Giles and David Foster.

The first prizewinners are eligible to get funding for a study tour or training course up to 75 per cent of £750.

One other important award was made.

Club Chairman, Roly Graham, announced the winner of the Houston Trophy for a member of the club who has made a significant contribution to agriculture.

Winner Robert Kettyle, from near Lisnaskea, runs a suckler to beef enterprise and has availed of numerous agri-environment schemes, and has a number of special environmental sites on his farm.

He has also adopted innovative practices on his beef farm and was featured in a video showing his farming enterprise to members of the British Grassland Society during an online presentation in 2021.

The speaker, Jim Freeburn, recounted his days with the Department, including his days of lecturing at Enniskillen College, later in beef and sheep advisory work, and his work with implementing the Single Farm Payment Scheme in Northern Ireland.

He reminded club members that the key beneficiaries of subsidies were not farmers but consumers.

He spoke of the importance of grassland and soil nutrients, and encouraged farmers to use whatever technology was available to them.

The next meeting of the club is on Tuesday, March 14, when the speaker is Professor Nigel Scollan, Head of the Institute for Global Food Security in Belfast.