CFOTY Awards

MEDIA RELEASE 23 July 2012

The 2012 Conservation Farmer of the Year (CFOTY) is Ray (pictured left) and Anne Williams, “Magomadine”, Coonamble. The announcement was made at the Annual Conservation Agriculture Conference dinner in Griffith tonight.

Run by the Conservation Agriculture and No-till Farming Association (CANFA), the CFOTY Award recognises environmentally sustainable and profitable farming and the willingness of farmers to contribute to the well-being of the local and greater farming community.

While farmers from the four catchments of Central West, Lachlan, Murray and Murrumbidgee are eligible, this year, there were three finalists, one from each catchment except for the Murray. The award is supported by the Catchment Management Authorities.

The regional finalists are:
Central West: Ray and Anne Williams, Coonamble
Lachlan: Gary and Anne Johnson, Boorowa
Murrumbidgee: Richie and Sarah Lees

Ray and Anne Williams have been conservation farming since 1996 and recently achieved a personal milestone of cropping about 2,144 hectares on their property east of Coonamble.

The 1994 drought was the catalyst behind the family's decision to purchase a precision planter for the 1996 cropping season. From this beginning, they have gone on to become leaders of conservation farming, making their own compost, brewing their own compost tea on farm and becoming advocates for improvements to soil biology and other advanced conservation agriculture practices.

Together, Ray and Anne have travelled extensively to learn from industry experts and other farmers both across Australia and overseas. Anne is also doing a PhD in soil biology through the University of New England, Armidale.

Receiving the award from the 2011 CFOTY, Grant Byrne, Ray Williams said, ""We do what we do because we love doing it, not because of the awards.”

CANFA executive officer, Neville Gould said when the award is judged it is about as much about where the farmers nominated have come from and where they are going with their farming system, as where they are currently.

“We’re interested in the process and the thinking behind the process,” said Mr Gould. “We’ve had a plethora of farming systems to consider when judging the award over the years from full-time croppers to full-time graziers and everything in between.

“It brings a range of management techniques to the fore as well as other factors such as risk management strategies during drought, frosts, financial risks and the economics of farming. Then there are considerations such as monitoring and knowing what’s really happening on the farm, as well as succession planning and occupational health and safety.

“One thing we do put some kudos on is community involvement and their contribution to educating others about farming. Our winners go back into the community as Conservation Farmer of the Year and they’re expected to be able to talk about what they do at events such as the CANFA conference,” said Mr Gould.

Media Release 2012 CFOTY Award Finalists

L-R: Anne Williams, Gary Johnson with Neville Gould (CANFA), Richie & Sarah Lees

Photos from the 2012 Awards Night:

Read about some of the past winners of the award
Read case studies of some of the past winners & finalists

Photos from the 2011 Awards Night


From left to right/top to bottom:

  • The 2011 CFOTY Award finalists (missing: the Brown family); Ian Packer (Lachlan CMA) with Lisa & Alan Payne; Ian Packer with the Arnott family
  • The Swann family & Andrew Urquhart (Murray CMA); Rob McCutcheon (Central West CMA) with Lee & Grant Byrne; Grant & Lee Byrne accept the trophy from 2010 CFOTY, Michael Pfitzner 

Download the 2011 CFOTY Award media release
For more information contact CANFA on (02) 6845 1044 or email

Highlights of the 2010 Award

Photos (left to right): The 2010 CFOTY Award finalists with the Woolworths Planter at the 2010 Conservation Agriculture Conference in Wagga Wagga (16 Sept); Regional finalists with award winners, Michael and Larissa Pfitzner; CANFA chair, Anne Williams with Michael Pfitzner and 2009 CFOTY, John Ive presenting the award trophy.

The 2010 Regional Finalists for the Conservation Farmer of the Year Award
Western: Bill, Jay and Cam Murray, Walgett
Central West: Mick and Kirsty Wettenhall, Trangie
Lachlan: Steve and Debra Nicholson, Grenfell
Murray: Mark (pictured above at left) and Rachel Day and Steve and Felicity Day, Lockhart
Murrumbidgee: Michael Pfitzner, Griffith

Award media releases:
Media Release: 25 August 2010
Media Release: 16 September 2010

Past winners and finalists of the CFOTY Award

2008 finalists and winners2009 finalists and winners2009 winners, John and Robyn Ive