John Owen, who has been instrumental in developing good farming practices for all farmers within Wales through his extensive work at Gelli Aur and beyond, has been recognised for his work with the Farmers’ Union of Wales – United Counties Agriculture and Hunters Society Award for services to agriculture in Carmarthenshire.
Being based at Gelli Aur has enabled him to impart and develop his knowledge and understanding of farming practices and needs within Carmarthenshire which have benefited the farmers within the industry.
After obtaining a National Diploma in Agriculture, John took up employment as a contract milker at Carne Farm, Fishguard, he then became the Farm Manager at Haulfryn Farm, Abersoch, Gwynedd managing the black cattle and Lleyn Sheep group breeding scheme.
In 1986 he became the assistant farm manager at University College Bangor, responsible for Welsh Black and Lleyn Sheep group breeding schemes and the Dairy Unit.
In 1993 John became the farm Manager at Gelli Aur, with responsibility for commercial enterprises. Additionally he was the grass value project officer with responsibility and assessment of 12 dairy farms across Wales.
In 2004 he received a Nuffield scholarship to study development farms in New Zealand.
In 2018, John became the project Manager of Prosiectslyri Project at Gelli Aur and in 2021 until returning was the Project Manager of the Tywi Farm Nutrient Partnership Project again based at Gelli Aur.
Whilst at Gelli Aur John was instrumental in setting up the Farm Diversification and Technology Centre.
He has trialed the Robotic Milking Unit at Gelli Aur, which has become a development farm for the Dairy Development Centre and also a Development Farm for Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales.
He has also been instrumental in advising farmers on grassland management practice, enabling them to gain a more competitive edge in the market.
He has also played a leading role in the development of Prosiectslyri Project, an innovative project reducing farm waste helping to safeguard the environment and address the agricultural industry’s environmental impact by developing a dewatering and purification system to manage slurry on farms.
He has been involved in the Tywydd Tywi Weather project where six weather stations have been installed. These weather stations have been monitoring soil temperature, leaf moisture and soil moisture. Through the use of a mobile phone app, farmers are able to monitor data and base their nutrient management and pesticide application decisions on the information from the app. Before retiring John was involved in the Tywi farm Nutrient partnership.
With government support has developed and constructed wetlands, plant outcome-led adaptations and precision farming equipment to maximise the potential recirculation of on-farm nutrients.
He is currently on the Board of Trustees of the RABDF and has judged the students of the year. He has sat on the management committee of the British grassland society, representing Welsh members.
He is a Nuffield Treharne Scholar, and has recently been awarded CARAS fellowship, an uplift from Associateship which was awarded in 2017.
FUW President Ian Rickman said: “John’s work will influence farming practises for generations to come and has already been instrumental in shaping farming across Wales, not just here in Carmarthenshire. Although retired, I know John is always willing to share his knowledge with the industry and we thank him for everything he has done.”