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PLUS ALL THIS... V I R T U A L F A R M I N G // L O R D M A Y O R ' S S H O W F A R M I N G C S I // B R E X I T Q & A cover.indd 1

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Victoria Wilkins, Chad Mulholland, Sam Ette, Anna Bowen and Orla McIlduff

LOOK AT OUR SHINY COVER *fangirls*. It’s the first time we’ve ever done anything like this and it’s all because of you lot. Now we’ve got that squealfest out of the way... There always comes a point where you think: “What on earth are we supposed to write about this month?” But not with #studentfarmer. Ever. British agriculture is full of imaginative and creative brains just like you – yes, even you Rugby Ryan. So we wanted to give back to you and say thanks for everything you’ve ever done – from the writers to the gamechangers, and even to the voices of social media – you are amazing. You nominated in your masses and we’ve whittled the entries down, crowning our lucky winners in their categories. You don’t get anything for winning except the sheer pride of knowing that we appreciate you more than ever. And don’t say we never treat you – we’ve got loads of content this month including a closer look at farming virtual reality, the best Brexit Q&A you’ll ever read and an interview with Brian Cox lookalike and poultry genius Stephen Pace. Basically, this entire edition is a homage to you beautiful people. So embrace it, and keep up the good work.

Designed by:

Victoria Wilkins

John Cottle

Editor of #studentfarmer Email: Twitter: @studentfarmer

Thank you to… The inventors of gold foil for producing something so amazing, everyone who nominated for the #studentfarmer awards, the winners and iStock

Published by: NFU, Agriculture House, Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, CV8 2TZ

Filled with words by:

To advertise contact: Alan Brown on

January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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We could go fully Ricky Gervais Golden Globes opening speech on you right now. But unfortunately we don’t have a 20-minute gag-filled opening slot to fill where we insult every member of the audience. And the lawyers said no. What we do have is a gang of farmers that we’re celebrating, from the wordsmiths that are championing British farming with pen and paper, to the fundraising farmers who are trekking the length and breadth of the country, all in the name of charity. Young farmers of Great Britain, we salute you! You’ve done us proud and put British food and farming well and truly on the map for all to see. Here’s our own way of saying thank you: introducing the

#studentfarmer awards. Off you go – the red carpet awaits.

January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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YOUNG FARMER OF THE YEAR WINNER Graham Witter has raised over £17,000 for a charity close to his heart by illuminating his family farm and opening it up to the public, throwing open the gates for a good cause For the past four years, 22-year-old Graham Witter has transformed his family dairy farm in Crewe into a winter wonderland and invited the local community to come and pay it a visit. Including us. Graham installs thousands – and we mean THOUSANDS – of Christmas lights on his farmhouse and dairy barn, as well as inflating a number of festive characters (featuring Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph), installing surround sound Christmas music, a grotto, a sleigh for those all-important sleigh selfies, and a visit from the big man himself, Father Christmas. We kid you not – it's like Christmas has been sick all over the dairy farm. But it’s for a good cause, so it’s fine. It’s an operation that could rival Glastonbury Festival, with preparations beginning as early as October. But the light display, which attracts hundreds of visitors each year, had much humbler beginnings, and was originally set up for Graham’s sister Jessica, who died in 2015.


“Jessica suffered from a number of complex medical issues and health problems and passed away on New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago. But she had a fascination with colours and lights. So we started putting a few up on the house, and then year-on-year we’d

put up a few more, and a few more,” Graham said. “In 2013, a friend suggested that we open the display to the public. We don’t charge an entry fee, but we put out a donation box for the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice in Trentham.” The hospice supports children with life-limiting conditions and Graham’s sister used to go to the hospice for respite care. Graham said that although the farm business of milking 380 cows and the light attraction are kept separate, having the available space of the farm has meant that the display can cater for the huge number of people that visit. Over the past three years, Graham has raised over £17,000 for the hospice by lighting up his farm, and 2016's display was bigger than ever. One thing's for sure: we know Jessica would be proud of all the work Graham has done to raise money. Next venture? Cheshire Illuminations.

#STUDENTFARMER / January 2017

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RUNNER UP THE MARROW BROTHERS Succession – it can be the elephant in the room for a lot of farming families. Plus it’s always on the bill at a farming conference where you’re being talked at, not with. It’s something that can divide families and cause a lot of upset, but these four young brothers in Brereton, Cheshire, managed to make a success out of their succession. Try saying that after you’ve had a few. Four you say? Yeah: Will, Dave, Andy and Peter. You’ll be forgiven for thinking it’s the line-up to a famous all-singing, all-dancing band. In 2009 Dave – who studied an agricultural apprenticeship at Reaseheath College – and his brothers decided to take the farm in a different direction. The farm had previously housed beef, arable and dairy enterprises, but the Marrow brothers focused on dairy and increased their herd from 250 to 500. They changed the calving pattern to a block system too. The boys’ father, George, had owned the Marrow’s farm with his brother. But in 2009 their uncle retired and with their own father nearing 70, the decision was made to pass on the farm. “Dad sat us down and said, ‘You’re the next generation, we want to hear your ideas’ and he helped us to get more involved with the farm. He could see that we were passionate and engaged with the farm so didn’t have any hesitations passing us the reins,” Dave said, the second oldest of the four brothers. “When it comes to succession, and passing on the farm business, communication is key. It’s important that you hear what everybody in the family wants and thinks and understands what is going to happen.” All of the brothers share the workload, except for eldest brother Will, who has his own agricultural contracting business and a slight phobia of cows. Good on a dairy farm, that. He said: “He doesn’t really like the cows to be honest, so it made sense for him do follow his own path, but he still helps out when he can and when the cows aren’t around!” The move paid off and earlier this year the brothers won the Cheshire County Farms Competition, one of the oldest farm competitions in the UK, organised by the Cheshire Agricultural Society and the local Young Farmers' Club. Nice work, lads. Now let’s get going with that idea for a band. The Marrow Four, anyone?

If there was ever a person that was fed up with the way things were and decided it was time for change, it’s Katie Anderson. You go girl. A former trainee teacher who found being tethered to her desk the worst thing in the world, Katie decided to take matters into her own hands, firmly believing that the best way for children to learn was through hands-on experiences rather than death by Powerpoint. So she had a moment. Farming is one of the most hands-on experiences in the world – you can’t learn about it by taking an exam. That’s when Muddy Boots Farm was born. Even Katie admitted it was a massive leap into the unknown (a cracking one at that) as she’s not from a farming background and comes from a family of office workers. “I only moved to a rural area four years ago. My mum would have cried if I had walked mud onto her cream carpets before that. I started accountancy training when I finished my A-levels, then moved onto becoming an estate agent where there wasn’t a welly in sight,” she said. But now she’s caught the bug. Her school farm is a small part of a 2,400 acre farm in rural Essex. “I rent the only livestock part of the farm, the rest is arable land rented by other farmers. Our new site, which we have just started developing for the educational area, contains an old WWII cinema, which will soon become our indoor classroom.” The whole thing is a practical experience aimed at showing how food is produced and the kids get to have a go at cleaning out the pigs and collecting the eggs, but it’s by no means a glorified petting zoo. Hell no. She said: “I didn’t want to start a petting farm where children throw feed to an animal behind a fence – there are plenty of other places where they can do that. I wanted my sessions to be a time where the children can enjoy the outdoors, learn about ‘farm to fork’ and mainly just have fun.” And it’s not been easy by any means, and still for her as a first generation farmer, every day is a school day – both for her and her visitors. She ends up tweeting fellow farmers to ask questions, but it’s been a building block in helping her gain all the knowledge to set up her venture. And if you’re wondering what the weirdest thing she’s been asked by a child, we’ll tell you: “Are girls allowed to be farmers?” Um, hello young child? All hail Katie and her stonking ways of teaching children about food and farming.

January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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STUDENT OF THE YEAR WINNER ALEXANDRA GROWDEN Unlike most students, Alexandra didn’t spend her summer holiday pigging out on the sofa, pondering which Netflix series to start next and questioning if a shower was really necessary. Despite coming from a non-farming background, Alexandra’s sights are set on educating farmers in some of the poorest parts of the world, and this summer she spent a two-month placement in the District of Gulu in northern Uganda (where she got handed a chicken A LOT). During her time as an agriculture intern with World Mission, Alexandra worked in five villages and delivered training and guidance to 100 households with land areas ranging from one acre to 10 acres per family. Because of the tricky terrain, she had to travel around the area by motorbike the entire time, even when she’d never been on the back of one. She got bitten by the bug and now she’s a self-confessed biker girl that could rival even that woman from Kill Bill. But like all good students, Alexandra wasn’t just there to have fun. Using the knowledge she’d gained during the first year of her degree at Hartpury College studying agriculture, Alexandra was able to offer guidance and knowledge on growing and selling cash crops such as chilli and ginger, truly changing the lives of the people on the ground in Uganda. This included soil preparation and cultivation, planting techniques, disease prevention, harvesting and marketing. “I also visited a dairy farm to look at animal welfare, management and production systems and worked on a proposal for a future project – trialling an oxen rental scheme that has the aim of increasing agricultural productivity,”


she said. A self-confessed fidget, she’s never really been one to settle down in one place for long, and growing up in the army with her parents meant she moved around a lot as a child. “I was born in Germany and I’ve lived in Cyprus and in loads of places across England. I also lived in Amsterdam for six weeks working in a youth hostel – but that’s not quite as far as Uganda!” This upbringing, explained Alexandra, influenced her decision to go into a career in agriculture: “Some army kids like to settle down when they grow up because they’ve had enough of moving, but I definitely think I’ve got itchy feet. I love experiencing new and different cultures and seeing how other people live and survive.” The two-month placement has also helped with studies at Hartpury and also confirmed her career aspirations. “It was surprising how transferable the skills and techniques I learnt were in a completely different environment on the other side of the world with a different soil and climate. “The placement closed the gap between studying and the work I want to do. It made me even more determined to carry out this kind of educational work with farmers in Africa and other developing countries when I graduate as it showed me that it is possible to follow my dream,” she added. #DreamBig Alexandra. She also believes that all agricultural students should travel if they can, to see how people farm across the world. “One of the amazing things about agriculture is that it’s practiced the world over in so many different ways. The changes and challenges that farmers worldwide are facing are so prevalent that we have to face them together and learn from each other. We’re living in a global village, I guess!”

#STUDENTFARMER / January 2017

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BLOGGER OF THE YEAR WINNER KATIE SMITH Blogging is totally trendy. The era of Livejournal and Bebo are gone – it’s all about Wordpress now. Katie Smith gets that, and she’s the face behind the Woes of Wellies blog that talks about all things farming and the countryside. Although she grew up in the concrete jungle that is Birmingham, she said that as a child she always had a strong connection with the countryside and farming even though she isn’t from a farming family herself. With her aims set firmly on being a large animal vet, Katie found it difficult to get experience working with animals in Birmingham, so she made the decision to join her local YFC. She said: “They were all really welcoming and I love it there now. I’ve made loads of friends in the farming community who have been really helpful at getting me work experience on their farms. It was through this work experience on farm that Katie decided to start blogging. “I wanted to share my story of being from a non-farming family and getting into the world of farming. I’ve also always enjoyed reading other people’s blogs like Ask Aunt Annie." The blog was also set up to give her the edge when it came

to writing her personal statement for university, and that’s why we love it – it’s real and right through the eyes of a young farmer. "There aren’t many farming blogs out there. When I apply to uni, I can show them that I really am passionate about farming and animals," Katie said. “I write whatever I’m feeling really. Sometimes I write about what I’ve been up to on farm, like when I milked cows for the first time (which I found quite therapeutic!) But other times I blog more like I’m writing a diary entry." We love you Katie – keep up the good work. The pen is mightier than the sword and all that.

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR WINNER NOMNOM This guy is a real-life Willy Wonka. That's all. 22-year-old Liam Burgess is the brain child behind the NomNom chocolate bar brand that has grown in popularity and brought new life to the Welsh village of Llanboidy in Carmarthenshire. As a young lad, Liam lived just down the road from Farmer Phil, who he would help out on farm in return for chocolate biscuits. Liam explains that the area used to be a hub of dairy farming but in recent years the farmers have moved on. For some of his childhood, Liam grew up next to the Cadbury factory in Bournville, where he used to buy sweets with money given to him by his grandfather, which he’d then sell in his “chocolate business”, under the stairs at home. After quitting his job at a restaurant and taking a year out, Liam realised that there weren’t any opportunities for young 10

people in his local area unless he did something himself. So, as you do, Liam taught himself how to make chocolate from inside a caravan at the end of his mum’s garden and managed to secure a £3,000 loan from the Prince’s Trust. And from there NomNom was able to expand. Liam took over farmer Phil’s abandoned cowsheds where they now produce 1,000 bars a day. Liam explains that the flavours of the bars change from month to month depending on what’s in season, and that the ingredients are sourced from local producers where possible. “When there is rhubarb, we make a rhubarb chocolate bar. When Ros has got her raspberries, we make vodka and raspberry bars and when blueberries are in, we use those. It makes it exciting.” So what does the future hold for Liam and NomNom? Well, the NomNom factory is just a stone’s throw from the abandoned Pemberton’s Chocolate Factory. Liam plans to eventually set up base there and hopes to build a real life chocolate river – strictly no Augustus Gloops. He's also positive that the business has no plans to leave their farming roots behind. Nice one Liam.

#STUDENTFARMER / January 2017

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WRITER OF THE YEAR We’ve got a bit of a softspot for this category – all hail the journos! Lincolnshire lass Georgie Gater-Moore is bringing this trophy home thanks to her fun, quirky style that sets our inner J. K. Rowling on fire. You may have read her piece about food waste in #studentfarmer – she’s a loud one and proud to be a British farmer

WINNER GEORGIE GATER-MOORE Growing up in the rural setting of Rutland, Lincolnshire, this aspiring journalist was destined to have a career involved with agriculture – but not necessarily on farm (although she has plenty of experience by the sounds of it). Not from a farming family herself, Georgie found her love for the countryside and for farming after she started helping out on a local farm feeding lambs when she was younger. But country life was already in this lass’s blood as Georgie’s mum had also helped out with lambing when she was younger too. After several years of feeding lambs, Georgie decided to buy her own sheep – eight in fact. “I bought them from the farmer who became my boss, as he offered me a job working on his farm and helping out. I then knew that this was what I wanted to do and something I really enjoyed doing,” Georgie said. After finding out about the agricultural dream palace that is Harper Adams (sorry Cirencester lot), Georgie instantly knew that a degree in agriculture was her calling in life, although she was torn between her passions for farming and writing. “I’ve always enjoyed writing, even when I was younger at school. I’ve got notebooks full of the worst stories you could possibly imagine – there’s one about the currency on an alien

planet being mud or something! It’s pretty awful,” she said. She was initially put off a career in journalism, to which we gasped, and as a teenager she didn’t want to go down the path of ‘nasty’ journalism; exposing celebrities and revealing scandals. “It put me off writing for a while, and for a few years I was confused. But then as I got older and discovered Farmers Weekly and Farmers Guardian and other agricultural magazines, I got back into writing and I knew that agricultural journalism was for me. “I tried to take as many opportunities as I could really – I spent two weeks with the Shooting Times in 2012, and that was a really good experience for me," she said. “I like the idea of being out on farm once or twice a week, reporting on stories and interviewing people and not being cooped up in an office all the time. I think farmers are really interesting people who have got great stories to tell,” Georgie explained. “I'd say I’m also quite adaptable with my style of writing. When I’m writing for #studentfarmer, because it’s got a more colloquial, funny tone, but it’s also very good at getting across a message, I feel as though I can have fun with my articles. “But I also enjoy writing pieces that are informative and technical, so I’m not really limiting myself to any specific publications I guess!” January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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YFC OF THE YEAR Clubs that have gone above and beyond – that was the insanely large tickbox that they had to check. It sounds massive in principle, but the truth is that there are loads of clubs doing that exact thing day in, day out. Here is the hottest category on our billing

WINNER DRIGG YFC It’s been a tough year for Drigg YFC up in Cumbria, but their phenomenal efforts to support each other and their local community mean that this award has to go to them. Following the devastation left by Storm Desmond in parts of Cumbria at the end of 2015, Drigg YFC raised money for the Cumbria Flood Appeal. Club secretary, Emily Pratt, explained that the club raised the money through their annual entertainments evening. She said: “Although the flooding caused by the storm didn’t affect our area that badly, in the north of our county there was a lot of destruction. We put on a play for the local community and raised £300 for the appeal and a further £300 for Gosforth nursery – we like to help out charities that are local to us.” Unfortunately, two of the club’s advisory members suffered a


devastating loss in 2015 - their son, toddler Jake, passed away in a tragic accident. The club wanted to show their support for the family after all the work they had done for the YFC. Emily said that the Christmas before Jake passed away he’d seen Peter Pan. “He really enjoyed it and Peter Pan was one of his favourite characters. So we decided to raise money for the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, which helps children in the local community learn, be creative, socialise and have fun. “We raised the money by putting on our own ‘Peter Panto’ play because we wanted to do something that Jake would’ve enjoyed and also for his two sisters who are big fans too. “We raised £6,000 through the play that we put on again for the local community. We also held a sponsored walk over Muncaster Fell in April in fancy

dress and raised a further £9,000,” Emily added. The money is being used to restore the house and grounds where J.M. Barrie (the original author of Peter Pan) was inspired to write the story that Jake loved so much. They are legit helping rebuilding a little piece of Neverland. While the club were rehearsing and preparing for the pantomime, they still somehow found the time to compete in the district and county competitions and take part in the usual social events. Drigg even hosted this year’s Cumbrian Field Day in May – an event where all the clubs in the northern district get together and compete in various competitions. "We held the event at a local farm, which meant for the entire week before we were cleaning the whole place up, mucking out sheds and hosing them down .The weather on the day was perfect and there was so much going on, over 1,000 people attended overall," she said. “We’re a really close club and the support we get from family, friends, the advisory and past members is great.” Drigg also lost one of its own members two years ago too. “Matthew Tyson died tragically doing his dream job,” explains Drigg President J.T. Norman. “The support the current and advisory members gave his family, in particular to his twin sister Sarah was to be admired.” “On reflection, I can see why the club has been nominated for this prestigious award. I know they are incredibly proud of what they do and rightly so.” Congratulations Drigg YFC! And remember: it’s the second star to the right and straight on 'til morning.

#STUDENTFARMER / January 2017

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#STUDENTFARMER AWARDS 2017 RUNNER UP ALNWICK YFC Alnwick YFC is the second-most northern club in the country, situated just next to the Northumberland National Park. So you’d think its members would have all the hills and mountains they could ever need – but apparently not. Where some of us would enjoy getting up close and personal with some cows, cosying up on the farm just wasn’t on the agenda for this go-getting club. In May 2015, 13 members took on the Three Peaks Challenge in memory of a fellow YFC member. The challenge involved climbing the three highest peaks in Britain in just 24 hours. That’s right people: no sleep. Jess Straker, the club’s treasurer, explained that they are an active bunch so the challenge was a no brainer. “We started training pretty early in the year. We’d walk every weekend and use the community gym twice a week,” she said. “Some of the club walked Scafell Pike as part of their training. We also did a huge walk from Kirk Yetholm on the Scottish border back home, which was about 18 miles.” After months of training, the day arrived. The club met in Alnwick for 11am and drove up to Ben Nevis ready for a 5pm climb. They completed Nevis in five hours – a phenomenal effort considering the average is seven. After a long drive through the night and a 4am ascent, Scafell Pyke was completed in just four hours. Check. Boom. “At 8am we drove to Snowdon but traffic delayed us by an

RUNNER UP BUTSFIELD YFC Butsfield YFC is unique in that it is the only YFC that owns its own building, which happens to be an old wooden Methodist church bought by members in the 1950s. Fancy, right? But in recent years the hut has started to rot and the members are in desperate need of a new base. “When the hut was bought 60 years ago it was second-hand and had lasted through the Second World War,” explained chairman of the club, Richard Darlington.

hour so we arrived at 1pm which gave us just 4 hours. It was pretty intense and we were all very tired – but we did it!” The club raised a total of £5,290 through local business sponsors, donations from members’ families, friends and also through a Just Giving page that was shared on the club’s social media. The money was split between the Great North Air Ambulance Service and the Brain Tumour Charity. “We gave to the Brain Tumour Charity in memory of Stu Ridley, a Northumberland YFC member who passed away aged 25. I, and others at Alnwick, know his family through the club and know that he was a really great guy,” Jess added. Next on the list? Cycling down to Torquay for the YFC AGM. “We’re now in talks about what to do next year.

“When I took over a few years ago I knew we needed to get something done before it fell down completely.” There are 60 members in the Butsfield club and a further 100 associated members (previous members aged 26 to 96). Architects have drawn up the plans for a new building, which will include a kitchen, toilet and will be eco-friendly. But one thing was clear from the start: the members had to be involved. So they were – they helped design the brand new building and channelled their inner Zaha Hadid. So far they’ve raised £100,000 through various fundraising activities, such as the club’s race night. Richard said: “We have a very good bond with our local community. In 2015 we created a nature reserve in the town and there was a grant available. For every eight members who helped we received £500.” Donations from local councillors who have seen all the good that the club has done for the community helped the club get to their current total. But there’s still a way to go. “We need a final £20,000, so we’ve started letting people buy a brick that will be placed in the building,” he added. “Rome wasn’t built in a day and there’s still work to be done but it shows that if we can do this from scratch, then so can any other YFC.” Nice one, Butsfield. Rome definitely wasn’t built in a day but with efforts like yours we’re sure you’ll finish the hut in time for tea. January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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Virtual reality has beEn around for ages, but only recently has it beEn knocking on farming’s doOr, meaning the posSibilities are endlesS. We toOk six young farmers to test out farming virtual reality at McDonalds and it alL got a bit Back To The Future. This is what they thought


ook around you – everyone is obsessed with virtual reality and technology. From video games to even 3D films at the cinema, the boundaries are always being pushed when it comes to enhancing experiences. Farming is no different. We’ve all heard the headlines: by 2050 British farmers will have to feed a never-ending growing population. We can guarantee you’ll hear it at every farming conference, or maybe by a lecturer that just keeps having to emphasise the point.

That’s why scientists and engineers up and down the country have been looking closely at robotic farming methods to address the issues around labour availability, bridging the gap between an industry with years of traditions and a future of innovation. Think it’s impossible? Exhibit A: there’s a group of lecturers at Harper Adams University who are looking to build and operate the first solely robotic farm, which is due to open later this year. Fast food giant McDonalds has taken VR immersion one step further, bridging the gap between farm to restaurant with the use of 360-degree video headsets and Oculus Rift farming simulators, which give consumers an insight into potato harvesting. The campaign is called #foodsteps and at its helm is the need to attract 109,000 new recruits into the industry to keep up with the country’s growing population. With the technology, the company is showcasing how food on its menus is grown, produced and prepared for its 3.7m daily UK customers, showing the journey from farm to fork. Those that watch the 360-degree videos are transported into either a working dairy farm, egg production line or beef patty processing plant to show how to company is putting British farming at the heart of its production. Awesome. January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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But let's rewind and flashback to 1985 – we know most of you weren’t even alive then, but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch Marty McFly transport himself through space and time at 88mph. If you haven’t seen the Back to the Future series, stop what you’re doing right now and put it on (or after you've finished milking that cow). They wheel it out every couple of months on some channel that your nan watches – don’t worry, it’s not a nan film. You might even strike the jackpot and get all three films on one after the other. Marty McFly was and still is a film legend. He ended up travelling back to the 50s, then forward into the future (which was present day 2015) and the world looked something like if Tron and Terminator had a baby together. But virtual reality found its origins way before Marty stepped inside the DeLorean with Doc Brown and Einstein. The VR we know found its roots in the early 1900s in the form of a book by Stanley G. Weimbaum called Pygmalion’s Spectacles. This bloke’s spectacles were like today’s version of a 4D cinema and enabled you to see holograms, smell, taste and touch. Too bad it was just a book, huh? If you want to Google some virtual reality hilarity, type in ‘Sensorama’. We can’t describe it, but it’s like something out of a time machine that you stick your face in. This was the next step in VR and patented in 1962 by cinematographer Morton Hellig. You might want to sit down for this next bit. The Sensorama had a 3D display, fans, smell generators and at the height of its technological advancement: a vibrating chair. Basically, it was one pretty cool way for Hellig to showcase his short films. We’d be here all day if you wanted to follow VR advancement through the 60s (which is where the penny finally dropped), but from then, right up until 2016, we’ve seen the likes of virtual arcade machines, glasses and even something called the Sword of Damocles, which is really weird and even after trying to research it through most of #studentfarmer’s production cycle, nobody understands. But it seems the year of VR is 2017, with the likes of Samsung Gear and Oculus Rift becoming regulars in technology. And farming won’t be left behind.


BEN SMITH Moreton Morrell “There are quite a lot of farms in the local area and I put my name forward to work at one as I’ve always been interested in working with the land. I’ve never wanted to sit indoors – I want to be outside. I’m working on a mixed farm that is predominantly arable with livestock on the side. I hate it when all you do is sit indoors which is something I think most people would rather do. “As for the VR, it’s been a great experience to try out the kit. It’s very educational – a lot of people don’t know that much about farming. I heard people walk by who were really enthused about driving a tractor and openly saying they’d never been to a farm. It gives people the experience of what we see day in, day out. I think VR can play a real part in education, especially in colleges and schools that don’t have the access to the real thing. From a farmer perspective you could use the VR to showcase new machinery and equipment on farm before the farm buys it – a try before you buy! “If I could create my own piece of farming kit I’d have a trailer that you could put hydraulic pumps and pipes into, so the tip works and everything. It just does everything to make the job a little smoother."

CHLOE DUNNE University of Nottingham “I’m not from a farming background myself. Growing up I really liked being outdoors and I was interested in animals. And at school I had to do a week of work experience so I worked on a local farm and I really enjoyed it. I then took a gap year and worked on lots of different farms. “The VR we tested really surprised me. It was so realistic. On the harvesting simulator you could look behind you and see the trailer behind the tractor – it was really exciting. I think VR is really great for engaging the general public with agriculture. I think people see farming as a bit old fashioned and traditional, but now we’ve got the technology to show them how great and interesting it is, it could spark their own interest. It bridges the gap between the farmer and the consumer. “The technology in farming is really brilliant and it’s picking up pace. I think one of the major limiting factors though is that a lot of technology is still quite expensive. It’d be good to see some technology that is more affordable for smaller farmers because it seems that big farms are just getting bigger and more advanced and efficient, and small farms are struggling to compete. “If I was to invent my own farming equipment it’d be X-ray goggles so farmers could see into a carcass and get a better idea of when to send it off to and for helping to look for certain traits.”

#STUDENTFARMER / January 2017

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JESSICA POCOCK Hartpury College “I got into farming really because I was working on a pig farm and I fell in love with it. I’m now studying agriculture at Hartpury and I like how the course encompasses all aspects of agriculture. When I’ve completed my degree I want to help with the relationships between farmers and suppliers and promote farming as an educational way to go. “The VR headsets were great and really gave you an insight into the sector – to see the meat production was brilliant. The tractor was also so fun. “The technology in the farming industry is absolutely mindblowing at the moment. It’s so far gone now that it’s hard to see how it can even develop further in the future. I think that more technology for livestock is the next step that needs to be taken to assist the farmers so that their work isn’t so manual all the time. “In terms of helping people to understand farming more I think VR definitely has a part to play. It will also benefit farmers because they can show people a tour of their farm from the comfort of their own homes, educating people at the same time about what real farming is all about.”

ASHLEY PIKE Moreton Morrell “We’ve got a beef and sheep farm in Knowle, Solihull, with around 100 acres. The best thing about British farming? It’s from Britain for a start. It’s good quality and great provenance and a history to boot. That’s why I want a career in agriculture – I want to carry on working on the family farm. “The VR is a good example of how we can train people in the future to work on farm, I think, especially the 360-degree videos and the driving simulator. But at the same time it could take away more jobs from agriculture, which would be a shame. If you haven’t been on farm it’s a great insight into the workings of one. It’s more educational and has more entertainment value. "If I could create any piece of kit? An automatic stick picker – what a dream! It would pick the sticks up out of the hay and would save me a lot of time and my back!”

TOM GELFS Moreton Morrell “My uncle has a mixed beef and poultry farm in Dorset, which is where I want to eventually settle down and run my own dairy farm, with beef as my second option. I love the way the public backs British farming – it makes you feel part of something really important. “VR in itself is really, really good. A lot of people don't have a clue about farming and what it entails but they’re all really keen to find out more, and although you’re not in an actual tractor for the simulator it’s pretty much the same… except you can’t crash. A lot of people can’t get out on to farm for various reasons, including biosecurity, so by using VR you can see behind the scenes without visiting. I definitely think in the future there is scope to use VR with showcasing new equipment on farm. For example, a farm could have fit a brand new milking parlour but not want loads of people on farm to see it, so they could use VR to bring it to life for visitors. And companies could use it to sell products too. “I think if I could create any piece of kit that would help me out on farm it would be to add a bale shredder to a front loader so you could just go straight out and you haven’t got to worry about getting a new tractor and going back and forth. That would be amazing."

EMILY STAFFORD University of Nottingham “I became really interested in agriculture when I was younger and worked on a few farms. I enjoyed science at school as well and I knew I wanted to study something to with farming. I’m interested in working within farm management after I graduate and hopefully I’ll be working on a farm that’s willing to diversify and experiment with new ideas. “I think VR can play a big part with getting people involved with farming, helping them to understand what farmers do and how hard they work. The VR we tried at the World Skills Show was brilliant. It was high definition and was very realistic. It was actually like being out on farm. "If I was to invent my own farming technology it’d be mobile milking units – although I think they’ve already been done! It means the cows don’t have to come in and saves a lot of time."

Want to get involved in a #studentfarmer experience day? Drop us an email at January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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We feel ya, it’s easy to not have the foggiest idea what’s

going on with Brexit. What we do know is that we’re the biggest, baddest teachers going, so let us hold your hand through all things Brexit


Let’s rewind back to GCSE history for a second – yeah, that lesson where you ended up learning all about World War I, II and even Henry VIII (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived). For the younger #sf readers you probably heard about this treaty then, but for those of us that relied on the news and Wikipedia, we'll educate you. The Lisbon Treaty was signed on 13 December 2007 and came into force two years later in 2009. It changed the structure of the EU (including adding in a President of the European Council). The aim of the treaty was simple in principle: make the EU ‘more democratic, transparent and efficient'. It had to be agreed by all 27 member states at the time. For the first time ever it also gave these states the legal right to leave the EU, introducing our good old friend and neighbour Article 50.


As if we haven’t heard about it enough already, Article 50 is the rule in the Lisbon Treaty that sets out the way a country can leave the EU. This is the switch that the UK will flip as soon as we start the process to leave. What makes everything a little bit up-in-the-air is that no other member state has ever left the EU before. It also sets out the deadlines that would govern the UK when we trigger the article, meaning the UK must enter into negotiations with the rest of the EU, which can take up to two whole years. Expect to hear the word trigger a lot. 20


As an organisation, the NFU is all about championing the voice of British farmers and agriculture – that point is the very heart and soul of the organisation. So the question of what Brexit means for farming isn’t an easy one to answer. As soon as the UK voted to leave the EU, the NFU sprang into action and launched a huge consultation with its members to see what they wanted, and even you lot put your two-penneth in. Once all of these views were collated, the NFU could create a vision for a sustainable agricultural policy for farming, with farmers right at the very heart of it, including you. If you want to read more about the NFU’s work around the EU, visit NFUonline. It’s a whole bunch of stuff and you’d be pretty surprised at the scope of it.


Everyone is so transfixed with Article 50 that we left good old Article 49 on its own. Like two sides of every coin – ying and yang – Article 49 is 50’s younger, better-looking sister that deals with applications to join the European Union, rather than leaving it. Anyone applying to join the EU must agree to the Union’s principles which include: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

#STUDENTFARMER / January 2017

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We answer all the serious questions. Australia is in it. That is all. As well as Australia there are also five non-EU countries in the billing for the show: Norway, Iceland, Armenia, Switzerland and Azerbaijan. They don’t have a leg to stand on if they kick us out. Besides, who would be the benchmark act? You can thank Gemini for that. We can’t, however, guarantee that we still won’t get nil points (say it in a French accent).


We forgive you for thinking we’re talking about how best to have your eggs (soft, if you’re asking). It’s some fancy way of saying what terms the UK will negotiate with the EU. Those pushing for a hard Brexit want to leave the EU and its market entirely, giving up access and giving Britain full control over its borders with new trade deals and laws. A soft Brexit is where the UK would still have some sort of membership of the EU’s market in return for a form of free movement. You’ll hear the word ‘unfettered access’ a lot – this means unrestricted access to the EU’s market. This would leave the UK’s relationship with the EU open. It's a lot to take in.


There are 43 years’ worth of treaties and agreements to unpick here people – this isn’t going to be an overnight thing. One thing is for sure: once Article 50 has been triggered, the UK will have two years to negotiate the terms of its withdrawal. At the end of the two-year timeframe, the UK can apply for an extension, but the remaining member states have to agree to it. If they don’t then the EU’s treaties cease to apply. The UK is still bound by EU law until the day negotiations end.

FROM THE TOP NFU top dogs President Meurig Raymond and Vice President Guy Smith gave their advice on all things post-Brexit at talks held at the Royal Ag Uni and Reaseheath College. Here’s what they had to say...

NFU President Meurig Raymond said:

“I promise you there are some great opportunities out there in the world for young farmers. This industry is going to need students’ skills and their enthusiasm because they are the ones who are going to change the mentality of many out there. “As an organisation we’ve supported the concept loudly of additional support for young farmers under 40. But my advice is that when you graduate look to travel – as did my son – to Australia and New Zealand, so then you have a feel for what’s happening and going on in farming globally. A lot of young farmers want to farm in their own rights, but with land values being as expensive as they are its pretty difficult. I think shared farming could and should be an option, and people want young farmers who are enterprising, particularly in livestock. “But these opportunities aren’t going to come easy and you will have to fight for them. It’s never been easy to get into farming, unfortunately. It’s important that we – all of us – at the NFU and at the universities, support and help young people in the industry because if we don’t then we will never be able to increase our levels of self-sufficiency in the UK.”

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said:

“I urge every young farmer to get to grips with politics – they are important. What we can and can’t do as farmers is decided by politicians. As far as Brexit goes, as the NFU and farmers we have got to show some certainty. You as young farmers are absolutely key to the future of our industry. “We need to unite around key messages and see this as an opportunity rather than a threat. We need to build a stronger, more resilient British agriculture going forward. It’s important that we remind politicians about our high standards and how we don’t want to see them water down through ill thought out trade negotiations. “We want the British public to see us as an exciting and high tech industry and not people who are chewing straw out the side of their mouths. We want to show that we're the kind of businesses that uses sensing drones to check stock. We need to promote ourselves as a go-ahead industry and we need to make every opportunity to do that.” January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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GO YOUR OWN PACE At the age of 27, Dr Steven Pace has already gained a BSc first class degree in Zoology from the University of Leeds, a PhD in laying hen nutrition, was one of the participants on the 2015/16 NFU Poultry Industry Programme and was crowned as EPIC’s Clive Frampton Memorial Award for Young Person of the Year in 2015. Don't worry – we're questioning our life choices too *hangs head in shame* 24

Introducing the Brian Cox of the poultry industry (with added rock credentials). There was a time where I was more interested in rock music and girls. Farming was just not where it was at. I was really active on the farm up until I was 14, and then I became a bit disheartened with it. Not many of my friends at school were from farming backgrounds, and at that age I was probably least likely to become a farmer. Animals are where it's at – no question. Inside four walls? No thanks. I've always really liked working with animals, and I still liked the idea of the lifestyle of living and working on a farm. I matured a bit I realised that I didn’t want to work between four walls all day and that I wanted to be outside. I had

#STUDENTFARMER / January 2017

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Steven was part of the latest cohort of NFU Poultry Industry Programme participa nts

family farm, which maintains water quality, delivering benefits in terms of productivity and mortality.

Looking suave picking up his award for EPIC's Young Person of the Year

a great childhood growing up on the farm and I want that for my future family, I guess. Farming runs in my family and it's definitely in the blood. We’ve got 400 acres of mixed arable and grassland supporting 400 ewes, 72,000 enriched colony hens and 56,000 free range birds. Our family has always been farmers with my greatgreat-grandfather first taking on the farm and my great-great grandmother being the frontier of the egg enterprise. Now, we grade and package our eggs direct to wholesale, retail and end consumer customers. At school I really liked science. That was why I decided to go to

university and study what probably isn’t a traditional agricultural degree – zoology. At that point though I wasn’t even too sure that I did want to go into farming, but I knew at Leeds University you could study some biology and some agricultural modules on the course, so that’s why I went for it because it kept my options open (yeah, this is the part where we're 100% convinced Steven is Dr Brian Cox). I was a bit of a geek at university. I didn’t do great in my A-levels, but I actually did quite well at uni and it was then that I realised that I really enjoy researching. But I had made a decision to return to the family farm so wanted to combine the two. So I put myself out there, spoke to one of my lecturers and said I wanted to do a PhD on laying hen nutrition. Through my PhD I’ve learnt to interpret scientific data and set up trials and this helps me see through some of the sales stuff and wave of rubbish (or gumf, as he calls it) you get sent. I’ve also introduced a new water treatment system to the

Be loud and proud about what you want to do. And don't be afraid to disagree with Jamie Oliver. Being a poultry farmer, you always bring a different perspective to debates at university. I even had one friend who told me that going into poultry farming would be a waste of my degree and intelligence. I was also told that going into a career in agriculture was the same as going into a career in coal mining (pointless). But you know, running your own business isn't easy. It's a lot of work and it takes an intelligent person to do it. And a lot of people have no idea what the poultry industry entails. When I was willing to defend colony cages, a lot of people were shocked because they consider me to be an ethical human being and then discover that I disagree with something Jamie Oliver says, but actually because of my degree I can hold my argument and back it up pretty well. Teacher by day, farmer by night. I currently lecture part-time at Leeds University as part of my role as research manager, it's definitely something different! The skies the limit, isn’t it? I'm planning to increase our flock size and will be replacing some old equipment so we can expand. But a slow and steady expansion is best for us. If you go too quickly sometimes you can risk putting things in danger and I don’t want to do that with the family business. January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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THE LORD MAYOR’S SHOW What better way to shout about British food and farming than to take part in the biggest. parade. ever? Chad the #studentfarmer grad spoke to the young farmers who took part


ollowing the roaring success of the NFU’s Back British Farming Day in London in September, it was obvious that we were going to have to try and match it at the Lord Mayor’s Show in November. And you know what – we did! A group of 12 young farmers and the NFU team braced the downpour and accompanied a PMC pea harvester and a Massey Ferguson red tractor on the historic three-mile long procession, in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators and millions watching live on the BBC. If that isn't good enough, six young farmers dressed as peas, meaning they'll never, ever live it down for as long as they live. Annual Convention fancy dress, anyone?

LMS FACTS: • • • •


More than 200 horses make the three-mile procession The first LMS was in 1215! Half a million people attend the show and line the streets of London The state coach that the Lord Mayor rides in costs an estimated £2million! Jealous.

LYDIA JEFFS-JOORY Lydia is well travelled in her farming journey. After spending her childhood in Mauritius, she has visited Australia as part of the Bayer Ag Summit and attended a food security conference in Amsterdam. She learnt her trade in England having gained a contract at a farm in West Sussex where she helped out for three years. A graduate from RAU, she is currently working on a country estate in Oxfordshire. She said: “I’m really enthusiastic about increasing awareness of farming and youth in agriculture so the Lord Mayor’s Show was the perfect opportunity to do this. British farmers produce such good, nutritious food for us and I feel that it’s essential we support them by increasing awareness and buying our food locally.”

#STUDENTFARMER / January 2017

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MIKE TEMPLE From Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire, Mike has moved on from the family farm he grew up on but still helps out when he can and admits the farming side of him will never leave. He said: “I was interested in the economics side of farming but to be honest, the farming side of it will always be there for me at home. I’m sure I’ll always be involved in agriculture as it’s what I know most about. It’s part of my life. “The Lord Mayor’s Show was a great experience. To be involved in something with so much history and tradition was fantastic. It was a brilliant advert for UK farming as well – to see the interest people had and the cheers they gave as we went by with the pea-viner was awesome!”

The youngest farmer to take part in the Lord Mayor’s Show was 22-year-old Hannah. She has just graduated from Aberystwyth University with a degree in agriculture. Hannah currently works on the family farm in Stockport with a herd of 70 beef cattle and 70 sheep. She is an active member of the Romiley Young Farmers' Club helping to grow the membership. Hannah also spent a year in New Zealand working on a dairy farm with 500 cows. She said: “The parade was a good opportunity to get involved with shouting about agriculture. It’s so important to back British farming because we need to improve our self-sufficiency and rely on fewer imports. The food we produce in the UK is also high quality and raised to some of the highest welfare standards in the world.”

GEORGIE COSSINS Georgie works on her family farm in Dorset where they have two dairy units and 2,500 acres of arable land. After originally being tempted away from the farm to study English literature and journalism at Newcastle University, she embarked on a glitzy TV and radio career in London, but was unable to resist a return to the farm for the long-term. She said: “The Lord Mayor’s Show was a great opportunity to highlight the young people within our industry as well as promoting British food and farming. “If the general public want to consume food that is guaranteed to be produced to the highest standards, then supporting local food is the best way to go. If the public also appreciate the countryside, then by supporting farmers they are also helping to maintain it.”

TOM REES Tom Rees is a partner in his family’s farm business in the Vale of Glamorgan where they have 550 breeding ewes and 120 suckler cows across 950 acres. A graduate of Harper Adams University, Tom does a bit of everything on the farm, including most of the calving and lambing. He said: “I think it’s great to get to a big event and showcase and promote agriculture to the masses. Some people have such a stereotypical view of farming but there are a lot of young people involved in our industry. It’s so important just to engage with the public about where their food comes from.”

ALISTAIR HALL-JONES Alistair is the NFU’s Boston branch chairman. He is tech-savvy and is all about using the latest technology on his farm. An anaerobic digestion plant was installed a year ago and Alistair hasn’t looked back. Calling the decision a “no brainer”, he’s continually looking for ways to improve the farm, where they have pigs, crops, sugar beet and peas. He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed being involved with the parade and learning about its 800-year history. There was an encouraging number of the public lining the route to watch the different floats come past. "What surprised me the most was the incredibly supportive reaction we experienced from the crowds once they saw our placard at the front of the display – there seemed to be a genuine cheer for farmers and British agriculture. The megaphone inside the tractor allowed us to talk to them and push the Back British Farming message. "Even if it just makes the people lining the streets think about their next purchase in the supermarket, it would have been worthwhile.”

January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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HELLO, STONELEIGH CALLING You might remember Sam from his stint as a graduate working on #studentfarmer. Now he’s left us for the bright lights of the presS ofFice right acrosS the roOm


ave you got a farm really close to London we can film on?” The NFU press office collectively slams their head on the desk when we get asked this. All our faithful #studentfarmer readers will know that a farm close to the centre of London essentially doesn’t exist, but for our friends in the media it isn’t quite as obvious. And we normally get asked this at least a few times a week by reporters, producers or researchers in the media. This reality actually makes our jobs in the press office more important as we need to make sure that the media in London is able to accurately report on the issues in farming and agriculture. The likelihood is that they’ve never properly experienced a working countryside. So how does it actually work? What do we decide to put out and how do we get it in to the press? You never know what you’re going to get when you answer the bat phone – sorry, I mean the press phone. It could be someone from the BBC after our President to interview on BBC Breakfast or it could be one of the largest Chinese television stations who are interested in the prospects of British farming post-Brexit. Media relations present huge opportunities for the NFU. The enquiries from press we receive present journalists to us that are already interested in farming. It’s a blessing that the NFU has such a respected reputation that we are the first port of call for anything agricultural. What makes our job interesting is taking an enquiry from point A, the journalist’s idea of a good story, to point B – our idea of a good story, which also works for them. The results of this can be massive, with our messages reaching millions of people. The challenge comes in keeping our stories alive and fresh. The attention span of the media is ridiculously short – before you know it, it’s tomorrow’s fish and chip paper. Luckily with 24/7 media we have loads of opportunities. And of course, the whole thing would get boring if you didn’t have the odd farmer calling in for an insurance quote for his tractor thinking we’re the local NFU Mutual office. I would probably get chased out of the building if I didn’t mention Farmers Weekly and Farmers Guardian.


To a lot of our members, if it doesn’t appear in one of those titles it literally did not happen. Luckily for those of us who like to have a chat – a lot of coverage actually comes out of just having good quality conversations to their reporters. We talk to both magazines on an almost daily basis and that gives us a good idea of what they’ll be covering that week and how we can work to get an NFU presence in those articles. On average, the NFU probably achieves around 15 mentions in each magazine in print and online a week, so for the press office that’s an extra 30 opportunities to reach our prime audience – you, the farmer. It’s tough getting the media in London to avert their eyes away from Westminster, Whitehall and the city but there won’t be many days where the NFU isn’t featured in a national publication or broadcast. So we like to think we do a pretty good job at getting the NFU and farming on the national agenda. Obviously, the real successes are educating the public and the media that they may have to travel slightly further than London to get to a proper farm.

#STUDENTFARMER / January 2017

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IN THE SAFE ZONE Over the past ten years 336 farmers have lost their lives on

farm. But the NFU Mutual’s Farm Safety Foundation is trying to prevent future acCidents, educating young farmers about how to stay safe in a pretTy coOl way. Victoria Wilkins found out more


i, you – yes you. Don’t you dare flick over the page with a dull look on your face. I can see it; you’re starting to yawn just because we’ve mentioned farm safety. Well you can stop that right now. This isn’t just another boring lecture about health and safety, nor is it an article that’s supposed to put the fear of God into you. All of these figures are real, so take stock. Now I’ve got your attention I can cut out the scary teacher persona – yeah, that one teacher who you always side-eyed walking down the corridor. I’ll admit it’s easy to shrink away into ignorance when someone goes on about safety on farm. We’ve all done it – we’re our own maker and we sure as anything know better than anyone else. Wrong. None of us are exempt from accidents – it could happen to any one of us today, tomorrow, next week or in years to come. And the figures show that this is one issue that isn’t going away. A farmer is six times more likely to die in the workplace than someone working in construction. That’s why the NFU Mutual’s Farm Safety Foundation has tried to find a new way of highlighting the serious issues around farm safety – including a chance to channel your inner Sherlock (the Benedict Cumberbatch version, clearly). The events are simple: the foundation travels the length and breadth of the UK with their army of insanely bendy

mannequins that meet grisly ends in different scenarios on a working farm. If you’re wondering exactly what it’s like, I’ll tell you. I turned up at Brooksby Melton College with a full stomach and a very happy attitude. I then turned the corner and was met with a chap in a mangled heap on the floor at the bottom of a ladder. It’s as real as you could imagine it to be – quite rightly so – there’s an element of the shock factor but at the same time all four scenarios were eventualities that you or your friends could meet. In the words of Mary J. Blige: no more drama. It’s up to the students taking part to devise what’s happened to the mannequin (all which are affectionately named, might I add – it gets weird when you start talking about Mr Bill) and what course of action they’d take if this happened in real life. Students are tested throughout for areas such as clothing, participation and attitude, and at the end of two short tests (pre and post event), their papers are submitted for Lantra accreditation. At the end of the half-day event, those taking part were treated to a talk by farm safety ambassador James Chapman, who lost his arm after becoming tangled in a PTO shaft. His story hit a chord with all of the students taking part and he didn’t even hold back as he was explaining how medics wanted to try and reattach his arm. I’ll save you the details, but James is a cracking example of how to turn a horrific story into a proactive piece of work. One thing is for sure: I’ll never, ever take farm safety for granted again, nor will I dare to feel sleepy as soon as health and safety rolls off the tongue. If you’re feeling like you want to be Sherlock for a day and get a certificate, have a look at the dates here:

January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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05/01/2017 14:23

NEW RECRUITS We’re a goOd bunch at the NFU – totalLy not biased. You could be part of the organisation toO as a graduate – apPlications are now open. Here’s the latest cohort to join the scheme

ORLA MCILDUFF Fun fact: I once met Dara Ó Briain when he came into a cofFeE shop that I was working in at the time. I chatTed to him in Irish and then couldn’t work for the rest of the afternoOn because I was so star-struck. Best excuse not to work ever. I’m originalLy from County Armagh, but I’ve lived in England for the past five years because I studied agricultural and livestock science at the University of NotTingham. I had a blast at NotTingham but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do afterwards. I found the apPlication for the graduate traineE scheme while browsing NFUOnline and knew that it was something I neEded to apPly for. What apPealed to me most about working for the NFU was that it would alLow me to combine my agricultural background and degreE with my pasSion for comMunication. The NFU supPorts the UK agriculture industry and I want to help give that supPort in whatever capacity I can. Arguably, the main event of the NFU calendar is the NFU Conference, which wilL take place in February. Over 1,000 delegates atTend the conference each year, and I’m lucky that I’lL be working with my team to help bring the forthcoming conference together. I’m also loOking forward to my other placements in the future (working within the publishing team, the comMunications team and at a regional ofFice) as they’re alL very difFerent and so should alLow me to gain a lot of varied experience.

GEMMA HARVEY Fun fact: I’ve spent the past five months working on a superyacht in Australia, so working with the land can’t have come at a betTer time! I’m from South Devon and my parents are dairy farmers. I grew up by the sea so I love everything to do with the beach, although I don’t surf! I went to Exeter University and studied Geography, which in my opinion is the best subject ever. I wanted to work for the NFU because I always knew that I wanted to do a job that made a difFerence, and I think that the NFU is the exact place that I can do this. It provides me with the perfect way to chanNel my energy and enthusiasm into something which I am realLy pasSionate about: protecting the future of British farming. My first months at the NFU have beEn realLy busy. I’ve atTended alL the national board meEtings, beEn down to London multiple times for meEtings and for the Back British Farming event that was held in Westminster.


#STUDENTFARMER / January 2017

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CHAD MULHOLLAND t Fun fact: My face once apPeared on ITV news in a segmen y actualL did I fame. to about getTing a vacCination. Claim have to get vacCinated. to I hail from SolihulL and I’ve recently just moved back d studie I where ield, my hometown from the hilLs of ShefF s master a history at ShefField HalLam University and did degreE in Broadcast Journalism at the University of ShefField. Although I’m not from a farming background, I’ve always also enjoyed being outdoOrs and grew up visiting farms. I world of agriculture is fulL think that farmers are very interesting people and the That’s the best bit. of great – sometimes crazy – stories that neEd to be told. realLy great in-house I wanted to work for the NFU because I knew they had a ties to work acrosS ortuni opP g publishing and comMunications team, with amazin realLy cares about its that media and publications. To also work for an organisation cs and policy, realLy members, and is so influential in the world of politi excited me. for the very sucCesSful Back Within my first months at the NFU I’ve beEn to London e about acCesS to farm British Farming Day, visited a pumpkin grower for an articl bles for my monthly column workers post-Brexit, learnt A LOT about difFerent vegeta s Show. Now I feEl like I’ve in Countryside magazine and taken part in the Lord Mayor’ swalLowed an agricultural dictionary.

VERITY RICHARDS Fun fact: I was born the same weight as a fulL-grown bald eagle. Beat that, people. I grew up on a mixed livestock farm in Herefordshire (beEf catTle and sheEp). My family have farmed the land for generations and from the garden, I can seE where my great grandfather farmed and where my grandfather and his eight brothers and sisters alL went on to farm. I atTended Exeter University, where I studied a combined honours degreE in English and politics. I’ve always had an interest in agriculture and farming as welL as in politics and I also wanted to do something worthwhile. The NFU combines alL threE! In my first months at the NFU, spent within the land management team, I’ve helped create a boO klet of onfarm renewable case studies for the COP22 Climate Change Conference and I’m helping to create a review of the industry's FeEding the Future report, which loO ks at the future competitivenesS of UK farming. One coOl thing that I did was to atTend a debate in London with NFU Vice President Guy Smith (which was on feEding Britain post-Brexit), helped to review parliamentary debates and atTended a House of Lords Select comMitTeE on HS2. While at the NFU, I’m excited to be meEting members and getTing involved in as much as posSible and I’m loOking forward to visiting the regional ofFices and BrusSels to seE the work that is done in these ofFices.

Want to be like one of the grads? You can apPly for the NFU’s graduate scheme on NFUonline! ApPlications close on 15 January. Perk of the job? You get to work with us. Done deal.

January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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JOIN OUR CLUB FREE: it’s like music to a student’s ears. We can’t promise you a freE meal but what we can ofFer you is freE membership to the bigGest farming union going. Why would you say no to that?


e know – you’re inundated with people asking you to do things on a daily basis. From claiming PPI for a credit card you’ve never seen in your life, to a sponsored advert of some weird T-Shirt on your Facebook feed from a company you’ve never heard of. It goes with the territory of being a wicked millennial (that’s what they call us nowadays). But the NFU isn’t some company trying to get you compensation, nor do we have massive

T-shirts that stand out like a sore thumb. It's the organisation representing 55,000 farmers in England and Wales and we want you to stand by our side. You can join the party by filling out the online form in the membership section of NFUonline. As soon as you’ve signed up your details will be sent off and you’ll get a membership card – it doesn’t have a dodgy photo on it like your student card in the first year either #deerinheadlights.


Victoria Look from Somerset said: “As someone who is greatly involved in the agriculture industry on a daily basis, I thought it would be silly not to be an NFU member, particularly when it is free! I really love the weekly newsletters that I receive as they are really informative and keep me up-to-date with what is happening in the wider world of UK agriculture. I particularly like the fact that it comes via email, as it means I can access the latest news even if I am out on farm. “I really appreciate the work that the NFU is doing, particularly in relation to the dairy sector which has been going through a rough period. I think more young people need to sign up as members so they can see the work that is achieved regularly by the NFU on the behalf of farmers.”

Helen Porteus from Northumberland said: “Although I’m not from a farming background originally, I’ve been brought up in rural Northumberland and have always known that working full time in a city office was not for me. I have a reasonably good overview of the UK agriculture industry due to the time I’ve spent milking and helping during lambing seasons. My family have always supported buying British and local produce, therefore it makes sense for me to be a member of the NFU. My future employers and clients will expect me to have a detailed understanding of the post-Brexit rural political landscape and receiving NFU newsletters and magazines will be invaluable to me when it comes to keeping on top of every new piece of rural and agricultural legislation. Those who have a love for farming should definitely sign up!”


We don’t expect you to dig deep in your pocket – you can sign up to the NFU for free and you’ll get a load of access to discounts and magazines that’ll be coming out of your ears. These include:

✓Copies of #studentfarmer (it’s worth it just for this) and our big brother magazine British Farmer & Grower

✓Invitations to consultations and meetings, meaning you can shape policy and the future of farming

✓Regional newsletters and the national weekly bulletin by that-there-thing called email

✓Special member rates to attend the NFU Conference where you can meet the #studentfarmer team. Don’t all line up at once

✓Merlin Entertainment discounts (Alton Towers, Chessington etc.)

✓10% saving on trailer training ✓Welfare of Animals in Transport test for £35 + VAT.

January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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There wilL be a time when you’lL neEd to use a trailer. But don’t worRy, AnNa Bowen is on hand to talk you through the gritTy details


ilemma. You need to drive calves to the market, cart fence posts, or carry your hunter to meets. It’s a fact: you can’t get away with not having a category B and E licence. But don’t worry; that’s where I come in. Roll up, roll up - I’m going to talk you through passing the test (with flying colours, obviously). You may remember your driving test. I certainly do – all five of them. Like that test, the key to passing your trailer test is practice and concentration. It’s possible to practice with L-plates, accompanied by somebody over 21 who has held the licence for at least three years or has “grandfather rights” to tow. When it comes to training and taking the test there are lots of options. If you’re confident enough you can book the test and use your own vehicle, just make sure that it meets regulations. You might be able to find someone to give lessons, but the most popular option seems to be to book an intensive course and test. My advice here would be to research. One company offered the training on a Saturday, which was appealing because it would mean that I needed to take less holiday leave. The company I eventually booked with was doing a deal offering a free re-test to anyone who failed at the first attempt. Let’s be honest, considering my track record I knew which one I was going for. The training and the test is expensive and don’t be surprised to


pay £400-£600 for all of it together. The test has five parts: an eye test, safety questions, reversing, coupling and decoupling, and the drive. The first two parts are relatively simple. The safety questions cover general driving (checking the handbreak, oil levels) as well as some specific to towing (size and weight of load). Don’t panic, and use your common sense. I know you’ve got some. Unlike the standard exam the trailer test has one set off-road reversing manoeuvre. This was the bit I was most nervous about, nailing it is a case of practising, keeping calm, and taking your time! You’ll reverse in an S-shape into a cone-marked space. The cones will be adjusted according to the length of your vehicle and trailer combined. Hitting a cone, or moving outside the marked area, will cost you the test. You can move forward twice (each time earning you a minor fault) as long as you don’t stray outside the lines! Training may be your first attempt at reversing a trailer and the process does take a bit of getting used to, the trick being to use your mirrors and remember to turn your wheel towards the trailer (in the mirror) to straighten up. The most difficult bit about coupling and decoupling is getting the hitch in the correct place with an examiner watching you – pressure, much? If you’re lucky your instructor will have a reversing camera. Don’t

smile for the camera. You’ve got as far as the hitching. Now there’s the drive – I know you’ll be wishing for it all to end but this is the easy bit. The road section is a lot longer than the normal driving test, and your training session will iron out any bad habits you’ve picked up since passing your practical. You know the sort – the kind of things that your driving instructor would shake his head at in disgust. Who ever remembers MSM? No matter how convinced you are that you won’t, you will get back into the routine of constantly checking your mirrors (craning your neck just to prove that you are looking – move your head as well as your eyes, people). During the test you will be asked to pull onto the side of the road and to perform a hill start. So there you have it: your trailer test. It's as easy as one, two, three.

#STUDENTFARMER / January 2017

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While your friends at normal universities are partying every Saturday night in high heels and a miniskirt, you dance on weeknights only, and wear wellies or boots #committed.


You have absolutely no idea where the library or the computer suites are. You do, however, know the exact location of every single fast food restaurant and takeaway shop within a 10-mile radius.


There is at least one person on your course who manages to party into the small hours and then go to their part-time job milking/ riding out for a local trainer first thing. They get better marks in their coursework than you.


Your fancy dress wardrobe is vast, if a little unwearable. Let’s be honest, that “ghost” costume isn’t quite as attractive adorned with a port stain, sheep marker, and some lichen from your stagger back through the woods.

At some point you will wander through halls and be surprised by a hanging pheasant. Go to the communal kitchen for a lesson in plucking and preparing. Will not regret.

6 7

You know everything about everyone in your year: their (nick)name, their friendship group, and most definitely who they were with on Wednesday night.

8 9 10

The supply of first names is short and traditional. As a result you will be referred to by your surname, or an embarrassing and difficult to explain nickname.

If you want to keep your Schoffel you either write your name in it or make sure that it is never left to lie unattended near others of its kin. One navy fleece gilet looks much the same as another, and with everyone on campus owning one it’s easy enough for yours to go missing.

Every single essay will include some reference to “feeding a growing population". The sense of responsibility is immense. Work it.

The holidays roll around and you have no desire to leave for longer than a weekend. Campus is your new home! You spend every day messaging your new friends and counting down the days until you can celebrate being reunited. Chill – there’s always Facebook.

January 2017 / #STUDENTFARMER

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#STUDENTFARMER - January 2017  

#studentfarmer is the NFU's magazine for the next generation of farmers.

#STUDENTFARMER - January 2017  

#studentfarmer is the NFU's magazine for the next generation of farmers.