Arable Farm in Barry wins Royal Welsh farm buildings competition 2023

MR & Mrs John Thomas & Son of Gilstone Farm in Barry have won the 2023 Royal Welsh Agricultural Society’s Farm Buildings and Works Competition.

The competition, kindly sponsored by Harrison Clark Rickerbys Solicitors was open only to farms in the Society’s feature county for this year, Glamorgan. The award sought a traditional or modern farm building that has been adapted to support the sustainability goals of the business, and was judged by Mr Colin VJ Pugh FRAgS, Mr John Brookshaw (2022 winner) and Mr Christopher Lloyd ARAgS.

This year the competition took the judges from sea level near Barry up to the tops of the valleys at Ynysybwl, quite contrasting scenery.

The winning farm was Gilstone Farm, an arable farm in Barry, the home of Mr & Mrs John Thomas and Son. The farm grows around 500 acres of cereals and lupins (for protein) and over the years the family have added value to their crops by milling and mixing on the farm and selling animal feed either directly to other farmers or to local retail outlets.

A lot of their processing takes place in old and original farm buildings which have been carefully adapted to house their milling and mixing equipment which they find adequate for their needs. But to improve and streamline their drying and storage area they have built a new grain handling and storage facility which also incorporates a sprayer and spray storage bay.

The building is 36 metres long and 18 metres wide and consists of 6 bays, all with roller shutter doors to protect the contents from the sea winds. One bay contains the wet grain pit and dryer, and the others are used for storing dry grain. The whole building had been set into the bank by digging out several thousand tons of rock, so enabling all operations around the farmyard to be carried out on the same level. The steel work is galvanised to protect it from corrosion from the sea air, and the walls were all made of either mass concrete for internal walls to give a smooth working finish or precast concrete panels on the rear external walls.

The end bay has been built into a dedicated secure store to house their self-propelled sprayer and also a storage area for the agrochemicals. It incorporated a drained floor feeding into a silt trap to catch any spills or washdown waste and this in turn will be pumped into a Bio Box filtration unit which was being installed outside. All the roof water was collected, filtered and stored in two 20,000 litre tanks and used for filling the sprayer.

The RWAS Farm Buildings and Works competition brings forward the best of ideas and designs in a particular county and this year was no exception. After much deliberation the judges awarded first place to Mr & Mrs John Thomas and Son, Gilstone Farm, Barry, for their grain handling facility with its dedicated spray store which will see them well into the future and continue to allow them to add value to their arable operation.

Mr and Mrs Thomas will be presented with the Peniarth Estate Silver Trowel, given by the late Col J F Williams-Wynne CBE DSO MA FRAgS and a Society memento on Tuesday 25 July at the Royal Welsh Show.

For more information about the 2023 Royal Welsh Show, or to purchase tickets head to our website:

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