Four farm professionals of the future from across the country have been awarded Best of British Farm bursaries this autumn in Agrii’s innovative award scheme to encourage and reward those passionate about the future of British farming.
Agricultural students, Louise Burden from Dalton Magna near Rotherham, Andrew Low from Edinburgh, William Watts from Ludlow, Shropshire and self-employed contractor, Robert Coe from Diss in Norfolk have all received £1500 bursaries from Agrii towards courses of study and projects that further their own knowledge and are of value to British farming as a whole.
Bishop Burton foundation degree student, Louise Burden (20) is putting her award to use in examining the value of a range of cover crops in supporting lamb finishing as part of her family’s Yorkshire arable contracting business.
“I’m keen to establish the best all-round cover crops for winter sheep grazing in arable rotations for our own farm use and to advise our customers,” she explained. “I believe sheep have a valuable role to play in modern arable systems and see cover cropping as an excellent opportunity for them to do so. But it’s essential the cropping meets the needs of both enterprises. I’m using the bursary to run my own trial with small paddocks sown to a range of potential covers over the coming winter to examine this.”
Coming from a non-farming background and with over six years’ experience as a full-time tractor driver, 29 year-old Andy Low is studying for an HNC in Agriculture at the Scottish Rural University College (SRUC), Oatridge. Ineligible for local authority funding, he is putting his bursary towards a year’s tuition fees.
“Going from employment back to full-time study is not easy,” he pointed out. “Especially so having changed careers and without reserves to fall back on. I’m particularly excited about using science and technology to meet the challenges of modern crop production and soil management in the face of our increasingly variable climate. This award will help me combine my broad field experience with a formal qualification to equip me for a future in farm management or agronomy.”
Harper Adams graduate, William Watts (26) researching biofumigation for potato cyst nematode (PCN) control in a PhD at the University, is using his Agrii award to attend the 6th International Symposium of Biofumigation in South Africa to present a paper on the subject.
“My research suggests that correct maceration and incorporation of a green manure crop rich in glucosinolates can make a substantial contribution to PCN suppression,” said Bill.
“In addition to its role in complementing hard-pressed chemistry, the technique offers valuable improvements in soil health and workability. The award means I can share the results of this work more widely while gathering the latest global intelligence on new biofumigation techniques from leading researchers in the field for use by British growers.”
Also with a degree in Agriculture from Harper Adams University, 25 year-old Robert Coe is building his own contract-spraying business on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, having purchased a self-propelled sprayer in May 2015 with savings from a cereal harvest in Australia and freelance work for East Anglian farmers and contractors. He is using his award to undertake a BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection over the coming season.
“I want to gain a better understanding of pest, disease and weed management so I can work to far greater effect with my farmer customers and their agronomists to make the most of their crop protection inputs in improving performance. Observing greater flea beetle activity at dusk, I’ve already fitted LED lights to my sprayer boom so I can better target this serious pest by operating more confidently at lower light levels. BASIS training will, I’m sure, lead me to make further such improvements to the service I provide.”