PEOPLE IN AG UK JULY 2018 | ISSUE 3
part of lifeandthecows
In this issue... 03
Eat, Sleep, President, Repeat
Millie Grey: The Unusual Route Home
Â Column - Attracting new entrants
Pack it - the new agony uncle column with Rob Ward
3-in-1: The Crops Options
JJ Macleod - My farming journey
Brexit in a tweet
Get in touch... @lifeandthecows PeopleInAgUK
A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
Welcome back to People In Ag UK, and happy summer to you all! We've been busy working on this issue since May, and we may be biased, but we think that it is our best issue yet.
Frank Lawry was appointed as Deputy Editor in May, and since then he has been busy flying the People in Ag flag for us at agricultural shows, and has taken over the 'Recent Success' feature. We have also collaborated with two incredibly talented individuals, Henry Mason Art and Jasmine King of Thistles Studio. We look forward to working with them over the coming months, and cannot wait to showcase their amazing work to you. This summer issue is a 'Gradewe-ation Special' and features 6 graduates making their mark in the agricultural
Brand new for this issue is 'Brexit in a Tweet' and 'Pack it'.
'Brexit in a Tweet' brings you the opinions and predictions for Brexit from various different sectors of the industry, starting this issue with poultry, dairy and beef and sheep. 'Pack it' is an agony uncle column with Rob Ward, cofounder of the Grocery Accelerator, who will be answering questions relating to food businesses and food start up businesses. It has been a hectic two and a half months putting the Summer Issue together, and we couldn't have done it without the willingness of everyone that has participated. It really is the the people that make the difference in this magazine, and we would be lost without their enthusiasm and generally chirpy attitude.
At the start of the Spring Issue I spoke about the appalling weather that we had seen at the start of the year, and I couldn't start the Summer Issue without once again commenting on the weather. To say its been hot would be an understatement. The fires up on Saddleworth Moors have been particularly devastating for some, and it just goes to show once again how fragile our industry can be. Stay safe out there, especially with harvest starting. Back again for the Summer Issue is 'About the cover star' and we think the 'Grad-eweation Special' cover is our favourite so far. I hope you enjoy our Summer Issue, and as always, please get in touch via email, Facebook or Twitter if you would like to feature. Best wishes,
Emily Hickman Editor
President, sleep, rally, repeat
Charlotte Garbutt, 23, from Grindale, near Bridlington, East Yorkshire has had a busy twelve-months as SU president at Harper Adams and has recently been involved in Open Farm Sunday as well as taking on the role of Lincolnshire YFC Rally Chairman.
Becoming President... Despite choosing to study Agri-Business at Harper because of the family feel, Charlotte’s intentions had actually been to study Business Management at Newcastle. “I wanted to move away from living in a small village and experience that big city life, and that’s why my intention was to study at Newcastle. “I really felt the family feel when I came here for my interview, and I thought to myself ‘Hang on, you’re forgetting your roots’, which ultimately are agriculture. I’d always studied business from GCSE so that was a real interest of mine, but I am very passionate about agriculture and I don’t think you can forget your roots. Sometimes the things you’re most used to are the things you’re best at.” During her second year at Harper Charlotte took on the role of SU Secretary, a voluntary role which ultimately drove her desire to become SU President. “Being a volunteer is an experience in itself. It allows you to realise the complexities of how organisations work, whilst having self-motivation and commitment. You need to consider things like timescales and cost, and it was clear to me that a lot of people really just assumed money grew on trees. I thought to myself if I could make a difference as a volunteer, what difference could I make if I was fully employed and invested into the role of President over the twelve-month period.” “When I started my role as President, I was faced with historic operational issues including staffing and funding, and some of the traditions had started to slip. The core message of what the SU was needed to be addressed, and to achieve this we re-introduced some of the more traditional events that students know and love. I also implemented a staffing restructure, and brought in a Students Union Manager to focus on the day-to day
5 operations, and an Events and IT Officer to manage events and control the website. We’ve invested money into the SU website, because we realised that it was no good having these events if the website crashed every time you tried to purchase a ticket. It was important for me that if we were going to do things properly, we needed to look professional too.” “I’m happy with what I’ve achieved over the last twelve-months, we’ve done a lot and changed a lot. We are currently implementing Student Trustees on to the Board to make things more balanced, and we’ve also implemented a second sabbatical in the form of Vice President, which means that next year the SU will be in a better position to make sure all students are catered for, through widening participation and encouragement strategies. I think it would be hard to regret anything because I've had a great year, but I wish I'd had more time!
The Grad Job...
In July, Charlotte will be starting her new job with Syngenta, a global agrochemical company, as an Area Manager for Lincolnshire. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to get myself established in the industry and build my career with an industry leading company. I’ll be promoting and selling a range of crop protection and seed offerings to all sectors of the value chain including
farmers, independent advisors and distributors in the Lincolnshire area. The skills and experiences I have gained this year in my role as SU President will hopefully stand me in good stead in my new role.”
Open Farm Sunday... Charlotte was involved in Open Farm Sunday this year and took part in the event at Child's Ercall, Shropshire. “I really enjoyed Open Farm Sunday, because it allows you to see so many people who normally would have responded with an uninformed opinion, and made assumptions and decisions based on that opinion, go around the farms and ask questions. There were people that were shocked when they saw the welfare standards – they couldn’t believe just how relaxed the dairy cows were. It removed a barrier between us and the public.” “University students are proud to belong to a specific university, they are proud to wear the crests, and proud to say where they study. We need that in the agricultural industry. We need farmers to be flying the flag, just like the farmers did at Open Farm Sunday. 270,000 people visited farms on Open Farm Sunday this year, and there is no reason why this shouldn’t be 300,000 people next year. The only way is up, and we should be proud of our roots, because we should be
6 proud of what we’re doing. We are feeding the nation, and doing it in the right way. The industry has to understand that we can’t just farm the land without marketing it, and advertising it to our customers. The public are our customers, and we need to showcase what we do. Every other industry does it, so why don’t we?”
and how well they are showing that Young Farmers aren’t always what you see in the media. I think especially after recent negative publicity, Lincolnshire YFC are flying the the Young Farmers flag really high. I was a really proud chairman, and I was very happy with what we achieved, and I hope that any future chairman’s will carry this on.”
Lincs YFC Rally...
Thoughts on Brexit...
Charlotte is also an active member of Lincolnshire YFC and took on the role of Rally Chairman this year, despite having no previous rally experience. “I love a challenge, and I’ll never let anything defeat me, and I think that’s why I took the role on. It was logistically challenging for me being three hours away from Lincolnshire whilst I was organising it, but it was manageable we managed it. We were very fortunate to hold the rally at Beeswax Dyson Farming at Carrington this year and it was amazing for such a large farming company to support us in the way they did we are all incredibly thankful for their kindness and support. Rally had a record attendance this year, with over 800 people coming.”
“Uncertainty and Brexit are the two words that seem to go together in the headlines these days. In terms of agriculture. We are now at a point where if people do not realise the need to change, whether this be through increasing efficiency or recognising the need to alter methods or practices, Brexit will effectively be a cull of inefficient farmers that have struggled on for years and haven’t looked at changing or adapting. Where there are farmers who are in a position where they aren’t making any money now, in theory they may not survive Brexit."
“Without our members being there and taking part we wouldn’t have a rally, and I am so proud of Lincolnshire Young Farmers for their achievements,
"It will give farmers that do want to change more opportunities, whether this be through less efficient farmers selling up, or selling shares in their business. I think a lot of farmers do realise that we need to change because we don’t know what is coming.” Follow Charlotte on Twitter: @ThisIsGarbs
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Millie grey: the unusual route back home A Sport and Social Science degree doesn’t sound like the most common starting point for a career on farm, but that’s what Millie Grey found herself studying at the University of Bath. Growing up in a farming family Millie had always planned to return to the farm and take on the day-to-day duties, however she did not anticipate that it would be so soon after graduation... The beginning... “Growing up in the countryside, I have always loved the lifestyle and the ethos that if you work hard, the rewards will come, so it was inevitable that working with livestock was a life long passion. I am the youngest of three daughters which is always a slight concern for parents with farming heritage, yet I was never pressurised to work and I was always encouraged and supported to do what I wanted to do. After school, I decided to pursue my childhood ambition of becoming a PE teacher so in 2010 I started a degree in Sport and Social Sciences at the University of Bath. At that time, I was playing Netball at a national level which was taking me all around the country, this meant spending less and less time at the farm and it was something I missed very much.” “I always believe in the statement that ‘you need to go away in life to really appreciate what you have back at home’ and this was definitely the case for me. It wasn’t until my final year at University that I started considering coming home to work on the farm and this was ignited after taking a few days off to help my parents with the annual TB test. I immediately thought is was an opportunity not to be missed and the timing seemed right; my dad was still young enough to teach me everything I need to know and the farm was in need of some young blood to warrant buying new machinery and updating the buildings.”
“I spoke to my parents about the prospect of returning home to work on the farm, and initially it came as a shock as I was so dedicated to my sports and academic studies but at the same time they were delighted. I graduated in 2014 and started working full time the very next day and haven’t looked back since!”
Millie grew up on her family farm, which was established by her grandparents, Gordon and Sally in the 1960’s . The business started as a small pig herd and Millie’s parents joined the venture in the 1980’s expanding the numbers to 3000 pigs by 2000, and adding a beef cattle enterprise to the business. The pigs were sold in 2002 to focus on the cattle, and today there are around 600 Aberdeen Angus steers on the farm at any one time. "The farm is situated between Bristol and Gloucester and we have good quality grass land so most of the cattle are pasture fed during the summer months.
This allows the Aberdeen Angus’ to build a good frame which is then complimented with a forage and maize based winter diet. We decided on steers as heifers tend to get over-fat with this type of diet. There are premium schemes available for Aberdeen Angus and so made it a viable and appealing option to us. We buy in Aberdeen Angus x dairy calves at 3 weeks of age and keep them until they are fit for slaughter at 20-24 months old. There seems to be very few farmers in the local area that do this therefore there is a gap in the market and we can often buy a good value for money calf.” Millie also owns 4 Hereford bull calves with her boyfriend, Steve, which were bought with the aim of making a profit and as an investment. “We wanted to buy a breed that would stand out from the Aberdeen Angus’ but would also suit our farming system. I spoke to Dad about the idea
and he suggested the Hereford breed would fit the way we farm as he had done it less commercially in the past.”
The blog... Millie also runs a blog, which she started as a way to help her friends and university lecturers understand her decision to come home and farm. “My friends and more important my university lecturers couldn’t quite understand why I had studied for four years to then come home and work on the farm. Little did they know the skills needed to make a successful farming business. To be honest, I couldn’t believe how knowledgeable farmers need to be, and how much we actually rely on basic skills taught at school. For me, my mathematics was definitely tested when working out treatment doses, weighing out milk powder and loading the diet feeder. In addition, I can look back over the blog archive and realise how much has changed since 2014.
FEMALE FARMER... Millie has a very active role on farm, but despite this she still believes that farming is firmly a male dominated industry. “Farming is definitely dominated by males and I experience this quite frequently on farm CPD days where most of the other farmers attending are all males. No matter what females do, I believe the industry will always be lead in this way. However, this does not stop us having a positive impact on the productivity of British farming. I spend most of my time looking after Aberdeen Angus x Dairy calves. Many people who have visited the farm say that they can see that the calves have been reared with a ‘women’s touch’ and I believe this is replicated by the health of the calves. A female’s inherent care and attention especially with younger livestock is an asset to any farm as an animal who has experienced a stress-free first 3 months is likely to go and excel in life. The challenges facing females in a stereotypical male industry is the fact that there are some jobs we are not suited to doing. I believe that males and females both have roles within agriculture, but at the moment, men are fulfilling more of these roles.”
Education... Although Millie doubts that she would ever return to teaching within a school environment, she has considered a farm based classroom as a diversification strategy. “Growing up on the farm taught me many life skills and I believe that having responsibilities at a young age helped me mature as a person. For example, looking after animals teaches you to care and be trustworthy because if you forget to feed and water them, they will become ill.
It also teaches time management and self motivation, as I had to get up before school to feed and clean out the ponies.” “I believe agriculture can have a valid have a place on a school curriculum however the problem lies in getting schools to understand and trial the many values agriculture can have to offer. I think it is very important to educate the general public about where their food comes from as it should ultimately increase the demand of British produced food. There seems to be inconsistencies between what the public want and what the public buy. Research has shown that people want the highest quality, organic, anti-biotic free food, yet they are not willing to pay the price that is comes at. I think one way we can educate the public to pay a little more is by reassuring them that the animals have had the best life possible.”
The Future... In the future, I will definitely be working on the farm and looking after livestock. In the short-term I would like to think that we can continue to develop our animal husbandry in order to improve our growth rates. Long term I hope to expand the herd size by rearing more calves and and moving them on as young stores.
Find Millie on Twitter @MillieGrey, and visit the blog at https://milliegrey.weebly.com to keep up to date with her journey
Column -Â How do we encourage new entrants into agriculture? By Emily Hickman @lifeandthecows
According to the latest statistics from the UK Government, 3.9 million people are employed across the agriculture and food industries, which is an increase of 1.3% compared to the previous year and agriculture was the UK's fastest growing subject at university in 2016.
Agriculture isn't given the same significance as law, medicine or business. It isn't often suggested by careers advisors, but why?
With Brexit on the horizon, our industry will need highly skilled graduates to work not only directly in agriculture but in the supporting industries such as Although it is encouraging that more people are choosing to study and work in the agri-food sector engineering, genetics and research and development. it is still evident that, for some, the prospect of working in agriculture is unattractive. So many doors are open to agriculture graduates, Undoubtedly, farming isn't glamorous. Farming involves long hours, and the work is mentally and so why don't schools open the door earlier? And what can be done to make careers departments physically exhausting. more aware of the opportunities agriculture has to What is done at schools to promote agriculture as offer? a university option? From my own personal experience, not very much. When I decided to apply to study agriculture at university through UCAS, my teachers didn't really know what the interview process would be like, or what the personal statement needed to highlight. Don't get me wrong, the school helped me as much as they could, and I ended up with all of my offers, but it really made me realise that agriculture isn't something that careers departments are overly familiar with. A lot of my peers went on to study law, medicine or business. A lot of my peers went on to study law, medicine or business. Most of them turned their noses up when I said I'd be going to study agriculture, in their eyes it was a 'Mickey Mouse' degree. How difficult could it be to learn to milk a cow?
How many of you left your secondary school after finishing your GCSE's and A Levels and, tasting the freedom, never looked back? How many of you attended careers fairs at school and visited stands that were of little relevance to your plans because there was nothing there that interested you? How many of you can spare an afternoon once or twice a year to visit your old schools and to engage the kids? Open Farm Sunday does a brilliant job of tacking public ignorance, but we need to do more to tackle educational ignorance, and to encourage the next generation of graduates to pursue a career in a truly diverse, progressive and interesting industry.
Rob Ward, farmer turned food brand developer, is here to help.
Farming has always been going through huge steps of change. Now we are about to experience a giant leap. Farmers and Food Producers that want to remain in the food business are about to be forced to make one of two clear choices. One is to be able to compete as a commodity producer. Or two, develop a food brand. For the record, I admire and respect the businesses that choose to win as commodity producers. Personally, this has never been my place. Creating brands and consumer value for products, is. So, every issue we want to help those that read this magazine and are looking for help. Think of it as an agony aunt (uncle!) share your challenges and opportunities. Use me to help you and others. Every issue the most relevant questions Farmers and food business ask will be published here. One to help them and two to help others... bring it on. It’s time to go for it.
Rob was brought up on a Family farm. In partnership with his Father, he developed one of the largest fruit farms in the UK. Later, he developed Farm shop business, to laterally create a distribution business of regional and speciality food. This was sold to private equity in 2009. Rob was a Nuffield scholar in 2008. He created world first food and drinks Accelerator, Grocery Accelerator Ltd. Today, this business works internationally with over 120 brands and has invested £4 million in 19 brands. Believing in the core value of building a world were David’s can take on the Goliaths. Rob and his tram are determined to turn the odds for success for ‘David’, soon to champion Goliath businesses. Find Rob on twitter @1robward, and email your questions for Rob to email@example.com
3-in-1: The Crops Option
JJ Macleod, 22 years old, graduated from the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester with a degree in BSc (Hons) Agriculture in 2017. Originally from the Cotswolds, and despite not coming from a farming background, JJ has travelled globally on his quest to learn about agriculture. Helen Brown, from North Cumbria, graduated in 2017 and is working at Hutchinsons as a trainee agronomist. James Whatty, from Cornwall, also graduated in 2017 and is working as an assistant farm manager on a 1100ha arable farm in Buckinghamshire. Finally, Henrietta Wells will graduate in September, and has just started working for Elsoms, as a Commercial Crop Coordinator. Q: Why did you choose to study at Harper? Helen (HB): Harper is the best in the industry with a great reputation. Henrietta (HW): Harper has the best reputation for being both academic but also practical, with the placement year, to me, being the most valuable asset to my degree. James (JW): I made my decision to study at Harper after attending the HEC weekend. Q: What was your background pre-Harper? HB: I come from an arable and beef farm in North Cumbria just West of Carlisle and we take sheep in over winter. I have always been interested in the farm since a very young age but I don’t think I realised the opportunity to study agriculture at university was an option until I was in my later teens when I started to look into what I wanted to do and found that agronomy was the perfect fit for my interests. HW: Growing up in the heart of the Lincolnshire wolds, I always had a keen interest in what was around me, which is fields and fields of wheat! I had a Saturday job at the local Case tractor dealership, working in the office, which first exposed me to the industry. After that I was a harvest student at my local NIAB TAG trials station, learning the importance of trials and variety choice on farm.
Pictured above: Helen Brown
JW: I worked abroad in New Zealand after my A-levels, then freshers began in September 2013. I come from a nonfarming background, but I've grown up around agriculture, with many of my friends back in Cornwall from farming families.
16 Q: What did you do on your placement year, and how did this prepare you for your final year at Harper? HW: My placement was carried out at KWS UK Ltd, after having received a scholarship from them during my second year of study. My placement was varied, allowing for a good incite into the company and how the plant breeding industry works. During my time at the company, I covered mainly three aspects, plant breeding, trials and commercial. My placement and scholarship in particular, aided my studies both in terms of knowledge exchange and finance. The scholarship gave me personal pride in my achievements and fuelled my hunger to know more about the industry. With Harper running a module on plant breeding principles, my practical experience and inside industry knowledge pushed me forward.Â JW: For me placement was 15 months working for a large contracting business in Oxfordshire covering grass silage, cereal harvest and maize harvest; it was a big contrast to what I had been used to in Cornwall, and a brilliant one at that.Â Personally, I started my placement year with experience of tractor and stock work, but no idea as to the level of technology some farms employ to operate efficiently. That is the beauty of Harpers' placement year, it reinforced for me that I was truly passionate about arable farming and in particular the use of technology. Having had a mainly practical machinery-based placement year, I did worry that when back at Harper for my final year there would be a lot of catching up to do compared to some classmates who worked as trainee agronomists, but it became clear that this certainly did not put me at a disadvantage.Â HB: I spent my placement year with Hutchinsons. It was always my intention during my time studying at Harper to go into agronomy. The practical experience was definitely beneficial for my fourth year modules. Pictured above: Henrietta Wells
Henrietta has just started working for Elsoms, a family run business based in Spalding Lincolnshire. They are the UKs leading independent plant breeding specialists, supplying, breeding and treating both agricultural and vegetable crops. Q: What does your day to day role at Elsoms involve? HW: My role at Elsoms in as commercial crop coordinator in the Agricultural team. This role is varied, using my knowledge of plant breeding and trials to support the sales of Elsoms arable portfolio. In terms of my career this is the logical next step, after having enjoyed learning about the commercial side of a plant breeding business on placement, I now feel ready to expand this knowledge further.Â Q: Why did you choose this career path rather than agronomy? After having studied for my degree, I personally feel that for the industry to move forwards, knowledge exchange is the most important thing. Both agronomists and people in my positions will do this, however my position is just further towards the research end of the chain! My degree was very heavily agronomy focused, but I feel that is was my previous work experiences which pushed my further towards the research side. With the current status of agriculture in the UK, and the unknowns as to the future of certain pesticides, I feel that variety choice remains the first key factor to determine. The future of the industry is in the hands of the plant breeders, and I am more than excited to be a part of this. Â James has been in his role as Assistant Farm Manager at Landsman farming for 12 months, having taken the job when he finished at Harper last year. JW: Landsman Farming is a joint venture between two main farms which then have two farm business tenancies. We are based near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire which is on the fringe of London. We also take on a placement student for 15 months, which is key part of the staffing structure. I am largely involved in the practical side of the business; the last two years has seen the business double its cropping area, which is why I enjoy working where I am so much. It is refreshing to see a business expand to make a success of itself in what is often a very volatile and challenging environment. Pictured left: James Whatty
18 Helen has been with Hutchinsons for a year, after successfully gaining a much sought after position on the graduate scheme. Q: How difficult did you find it to get onto the graduate scheme with Hutchinsons? HB: It is exceptionally challenging to get on the foundation – the positions are highly sought after as it is the leading training scheme for agronomists in the UK. It was evident through the process that the most important thing is finding candidates which have people skills, as this is absolutely crucial when out finding agronomy clients and building business. I think what made me stand out is I did my placement year with Hutchinsons and this meant they got to know me and could see how I worked before taking me on as a full time agronomist – this also gave me a year to see that this was definitely the company I wanted to work for. Helen and James were both selected to be on the team that took part in the Cereals Challenge when they were at Harper. The competition is run by Hutchinsons and Velcourt. JW: This was the first year of the challenge being 'virtually' based so that scenarios could be changed to see how teams reacted to changing conditions. It was thoroughly enjoyable to be involved; we came second overall, most importantly beating Cirencester. One of the really interesting things that came out of the whole process was finding out how the farming community has adopted Twitter,and how brilliant it is for is keeping up to date on day to day, local, national and international agricultural matters. HB: Taking part in the Cereals challenge was a great experience. The main challenge I faced was the time it took up during final year, I was exceptionally busy with my dissertation and studying for my final exams, but it was worth it for the experience of dealing with seasonal conditions and their effect on changing your agronomy practice through the season. I have seen that this is exceptionally important now I am in my role as an agronomist. Looking to the future, all three of the graduates have big ambitions and realise that the industry will face change in the future. HW: I wish to progress my career as far as possible, hopefully one day being in a managerial position. I look forward to build relationships with other like minded people in the industry, and aiding to improve yields and keep farmers, and agronomists happy. Agriculture is a very fast paced industry, and the need to maintain the supply of high yielding, disease resistant, and marketable varieties is ever important. The future of the industry cannot be 100% accurately predicted, and we cannot afford to rely on only a handful of inputs. Variety choice is determined by numerous factors including; soil type, rotation, farm size, available markets, and understanding these factors will in turn increase yield and therefore financial return. With an ever growing population,
19 agricultural cereal production will have to increase by over 2/3rds in the next 40 years in order to provide enough food for everyone. Efficiency of production is key, and effective and informative knowledge exchange is the most important factor to consider. There is no definitive answer, but as long as research continues, and farmers and agronomist are in the position to utilise these findings, the industry is an exciting place for a young person like me.Â HB: In the future I see myself building agronomy business in Cumbria and also undertaking research in the way of the Hutchinsons regional technology centre trial site based on my home farm. JW: For me, I can see the next five years being a busy few years; personally I will continue to study for qualifications such as BASIS, while the farm faces challenges from the route of HS2 and rapid urban growth. We have already had to wholecrop 25ha of wheat to make way for surveys and diggers for HS2 which has been sad to see. This along with the expanding business, and ensuring we stay on the cutting edge of technology and productivity, will certainly keep me busy.
Follow Helen and James on Twitter to follow their adventures in graduate life @HelenBruwn @JamesWhatty
Farmer JJ - My Journey in Agriculture
JJ Macleod, 22 years old, graduated from the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester with a degree in BSc (Hons) Agriculture in 2017. Originally from the Cotswolds, and despite not coming from a farming background, JJ has travelled globally on his quest to learn about agriculture.
Although JJ is not from a direct farming background, he has wider family members farming in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Kenya. Spending summer evenings in the combine with the local farmer was the start of JJ’s love for agriculture. Before starting at the RAU, he chose to study A-Levels and completed the required work experience. “I did my work experience on two large organic estates in Gloucestershire. One was with Dick Roper who won the ‘one man and his dog sheep handling competition’ in 2016. It was amazing watching someone with such a passion for agriculture go about his business on a day to day basis and I learnt a lot from him during my time there.” JJ looked at a number of universities when applying to study agriculture, but found making the decision to choose the RAU easy. “I looked at all the options when it came to studying agriculture at university, but I got a really good feeling when I walked round the RAU campus on the open day. It has got an excellent reputation within the industry, a high employability rate after graduation and a strong student community.
21 The course was also very broad which appealed to me and they had the Rural Innovation Centre on one of the university farms, which allowed us to complete courses such as our telehandler license and PA1 and PA2 tickets. Ultimately you will never beat being out on the farm/ job learning practically, but understanding the theory behind the management practices and the reason you are doing something is never a bad thing.” The BSc (Hons) Agriculture course at the RAU includes modules such as livestock production, crop production, environmental and woodland management and agricultural policy and legislation. This allows students to become understand a multitude of farming systems and principles before selecting their final year modules, which are often chosen to suit their graduation plans. A 6-month placement is also undertaken by students, which keeps the course to three years, rather than four. JJ split his placement period into two parts, travelling first to Kenya. “In Kenya, I worked on a large arable farm where I completed cultivations on a John Deere 8335RT and 4.5m Sumo subsoiler. This was mostly on virgin arable land in the middle of the bush and we went through many, many shear bolts on the subsoiler. This was followed by more cultivations on a different farm using a John Deere 6930 and disc set. This was all done using RTK guidance which was definitely useful on the large fields out there, in some cases they were 100ha!” “Other tasks including spraying with a trailed Hardi sprayer and I even got a chance to combine a crop of sorghum for cheap beer with a John Deere S690 and 30ft header. I learnt a huge amount about the challenges facing Kenyan farmers, but also the opportunities they have and I had a brilliant time out there while at it.”
22 “The second part of my placement was back in the UK on a large arable farm in Oxfordshire. This mainly included carting grain, loading grain lorries and getting on with secondary cultivations, along with plenty of grain store cleaning! I think practical experience will always benefit your studies as you are able to relate what you are learning about to a real life situation. It is also interesting to discuss our placement experience with the other students on the course and compare the management practices that were undertaken on each farm.” Since graduating in 2017 JJ has worked for Farmcare as a graduate trainee. Starting in Lincolnshire on the pea vining operation as day-shift manager, JJ later moved to Cambridgshire and was given the responsibility of the grading shed. “In Cambridgeshire I managed a team of graders throughout the salad/maincrop potato harvest and the onion harvest. I was also in charge of stacking the produce in store and overseeing the relevant paperwork. When the news broke of Farmcare quitting operational farming, I was not confident that my job was safe and therefore joined Intelligent Precision Farming (IPF). I gained a greater knowledge around the practices of precision farming and soil variation, sampling and analysis while at IPF. The role also allowed me to experience a corporate company and deal with farmers from a business point of view. However, when a fantastic opportunity came up on a diverse farm in Herefordshire I could not say no and I have recently started in this new role.”
“The farm grows around 1,800 acres of combinable crops, 175 acres of processing potatoes and 130 acres of cider orchards. There is also a new-build 4-shed, 180,000 broiler rearing unit, with all the poultry manure being incorporated on the farm. My role involves time on the machinery, including fertiliser application, Oilseed Rape drilling and spring potato land de-stoning. I will also get involved in the seasonal logistics co-ordination, liaise with the agronomist(s) and help the team to keep the farm moving." Having not come from a farming background, JJ believes that more young people should be encouraged to study agriculture at university or at college. “I think that agriculture is a fantastic industry to get into, but you do have to have a passion for it and love what you do. I think a lot of
23 people do not realise quite how diverse and high-tech the industry has become and just how many opportunities there are. Getting a diploma or a degree in agriculture does not mean you have to go sit on a tractor or check the livestock everyday. There is a huge network of individuals and companies supporting farmers; from machinery dealers and manufacturers, marketing companies, journalists, technology companies, agronomists and chemical companies to name but a few. I think educating people about the opportunities available to them following an agricultural degree is important, but I would definitely recommend studying agriculture either at college or university.” The end goal for JJ is farm management, however, he realises the importance of working his way up and gaining experience of all the jobs on the farm. “I am very happy to pick up a brush and sweep the grain stores, or to strim the gateways to make sure the combine can get in. I would also like to understand the day-to-day running of a farm business and complete my FACTS and BASIS training.”
Efficiency is something that JJ is keen to understand more about in the future. “You need to have an eye for detail and every field, and subsequently every zone within the field, needs to be managed differently. Not every field or zone is going to be able to produce the yield that farmers aspire for, therefore micro-management of each field will help to maximise an optimum return. I think that precision farming is the first step in achieving micro-management but what is the point in farming a field that never produces a return? What else could you do with that field that would be profitable?" "That’s where farm diversification comes in. In terms of farming practice, no farm is the same as any other so there is no ‘one bill fits all’ approach. For some farms zero till works by increasing efficiency and reducing input costs, but it will not fit every system. Farming co-operatives, novel crop types, optimum cropping rotation and improved varieties, possibly including GM crops, are all options for increasing efficiency for arable farmers.”
Efficiency is also something JJ feels farmers need to address with the approach of Brexit. “Farms need to maximise their efficiency regardless of Brexit. I think it is better to prepare for the worst, then you will be ready for whatever Brexit throws at you. So again, paying close attention to detail, micromanagement of fields or stock, improving cost of production and looking at any possible opportunity for diversification. Do not put all your eggs in one basket.” “The main opportunities will be to create a new British Agricultural Policy, one which invests in domestic food production by supporting competitive, profitable, and progressive farm businesses at the centre of a dynamic UK food chain. Brexit is also an opportunity to improve our food security and reduce our reliance on foreign food imports, whilst also encouraging new sustainable farming techniques to meet the UK’s environmental challenges. One concern is that it is difficult to forecast how agricultural trade will be impacted, while another challenge will be attracting a sustainable flow of seasonal workers for fruit and vegetable farms in particular, around the UK.”
Follow JJ on Twitter @JJ_Macleod, and subscribe to his YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/FarmTrackProductions?app=desktop
BREXIT in a tweet
Brexit opinions and predictions from different agricultural industries, in 240 characters or less... Poultry... Post-Brexit we must secure our values and standards and avoid a two-tier system at all costs. British poultry is on the frontline of feeding the country, fighting hunger, and ensuring quality food is available to our schools and hospitals.
Dairy... #Dairy farmer on #Brexit: ��MILK ��EAT ��SLEEP ��Worry about Barnier:May trade talks ��Calve cow, scrape yards ��Consider opportunities for new U.K. Farm Policy ����REPEAT ��Not everything is black & white But if my farm feeds me, I'll feed you #feedthenation ��
Sheep and Beef... As a remain voting farmer I was shocked with Brexit result , but am now looking to the future and making sure we have a sustainable British food supply , at an affordable price for the public . We need to engage with our consumers and hopefully they will support British Agriculture.
Use the hashtag #BrexitInATweet to join the conversation and for your chance to be featured
Harper Adams win big at Farm Planner Competition The farm planner competition is an annual event hosted by the Institute of Agricultural Management. Teams from the UK’s top Agricultural universities compete by attempting to draw up ‘the best’ business plan for the future of a real life farming situation. Each year holds a particular theme; this year’s was succession planning. Harper Adams celebrates the third consecutive year of victory. The Harper team consisted of five final year students; Daniel Liddell, Paul Brown, Harry Dunford, Charlie Cheyney and Michael Wood.
In the final year of the BSc (Hons) degree course students must undertake two assignments for the Agricultural Business Development module. When it comes to the second of the two assignments, students can volunteer to take on the farm planner competition instead of the normal assignment of which marks are still awarded for the degree. "The most significant unexpected event I would say was the initial clash of other assignment and dissertation work with the Farm Planner report. There were five members of the team two of which
two of which were studying BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Farm Business Management and three that were studying BSc (Hons) Agriculture and all with different elective modules within their respective course made it difficult to get together and make time for putting the work of the report together with often, only a steady stream of emails back and forth ensuring each person’s work was being done on time" said Daniel Liddell. Daniel chose to take on the Farm Planner challenge because of the prestige of the competition.
27 "We ensured that we made a good impression by dressing smart and professional when delivering our presentation “Dress smart, think smart”. Focussing on what John and Cathy’s mission, vision and personal objectives were for the business. We needed to formulate a plan that incorporated their desire for retirement in the next 5 years whilst also driving the business forward for the future in terms of profitability and long-term business sustainability." "I think the key element to the success of this strategic review and winning the Farm Planner Competition was an integrated approach incorporating succession, profitability, diversification and policy. Particular focus on the wider business environment and future government policy (Health & Harmony) ensured our plan could benefit John and Cathy not only in the next five but 10 to 15 years." Succession is a difficult and often awkward conversation to have on farm. "It can be difficult to discuss the passing down of assets or management of a farming business, and we’d all like to think we can live forever. Realistically, the sooner succession planning can be undertaken, the more positive and forward thinking a business will be by enabling it is to plan for the future." "Succession can provide real benefits and opportunities to a farming business, through new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurialism. It also can present new opportunities for the next generation to thrive, and I bring it back to working as a team." "A farm business is more likely to flourish if everyone is on the same page and striving for the same goal. Giving others the opportunity to take on responsibility or control of the business can increase business engagement. By harnessing individual’s interests within a business for example diversification; can facilitate resource utilisation and entrepreneurialism as well as provide another source of income for the business and next generation." "Seeking succession mediation can provide a good foundation to a healthy and positive working relationship which not only benefits the long-term sustainability of the farming business but most importantly the individuals involved in meeting their own personal objectives."
KATIE IMPRESSES WITH INVITE TO PRESTIGIOUSLUNCH Katie Anderson, who was featured in the Spring Issue of People in Ag UK has been selected as one of 400 women invited to attend the prestigious 'Women of the Year Lunch' as one of the 2018 'Women of Achievement and Inspiration'. The event, which is sponsored by Barclays, shines a light on the achievements of women across society. Katie has recently started a new job working with beef cattle, and has taken on the role with enthusiasm and an incredible willingness to learn.
Katie , s n o i t a ul Congrat
Follow Katie on Twitter @FemaleFarmerUK
For me personally, education is the foundation for a long and successful career in industry. It is exciting to see a generation of passionate, enthusiastic and forward thinking graduates enter our industry at a truly pivotal time of uncertainty and change. I feel privileged to have spoken to these fantastic individuals, and certainly wish them all the best for their future careers. Highly skilled graduates are going to be more important than ever before to our industry post Brexit, and it is only through encouraging the next generation of graduates to study a degree in agriculture and pursue their careers within the industry that we can be confident in the future of British agriculture. Thanks for reading, and we will see you again in October!
Emily Hickman EDITOR
Third issue of People in Ag UK - Grad-ewe-ation Special, which has interviews from 7 graduates, and two BRAND NEW features!
Published on Jul 12, 2018
Third issue of People in Ag UK - Grad-ewe-ation Special, which has interviews from 7 graduates, and two BRAND NEW features!