The On Farm Competitions are one of the historic bases that the Berkshire Show was founded upon. Designed to help promote better and increased food production over 100 years ago, they still serve this purpose today and provide an opportunity for the local farmers of Berkshire and the immediate surrounding area to show off how good they are and to learn from others.
The year starts with the planning of how we judge 39 classes throughout the year, firstly by selecting the judges and stewards. They are chosen by the On Farm committee members and they are usually judges who have judged from other regions so are familiar with the process.
Next, a schedule of the classes we want to run for the year is circulated in March to all farmers, new and existing, in Berkshire and the surrounding areas. Farmers then have the opportunity to submit their entry forms by the end of April. The reason the farmers take part and put themselves forward to be judged is to get feedback from an outside person on how they rate as a farmer compared with their neighbours.
Judging starts in May, and all the judges would have been allocated a number of farms to visit, and the following is what they assess:
Productive grass to make quality feed with few weeds
Herds and flocks: based on their commercial value to the butcher
Clean and even crops that look like they will produce a good harvest
Management of the entire farm, to include crops, staff and physical assets
Margins you see on the edge of fields. The judges look for a variety of things but mainly how the crops will either give protection through the winter or provide winter food
What feed value standing maize will produce when harvested for livestock or increasingly Anaerobic Digester use
Harvested crops are judged on the Saturday morning of the Show in September, in the Produce Tent. The judge looks to see the quality of the final crop, whether it be a bale of hay, bag of silage or threshed grain
The results are partly announced at the annual BBQ in June, after the arable crops have been judged but before the whole farms are judged.
Further results from all the classes are announced at the Prize Giving on the Sunday morning of the Show in the Presidents enclosure.