Nuffield Scholars influence the future of British farming

Ground-breaking findings from 18 months worth of independent global travel and study were presented by 24 Scholars at the Nuffield Farming annual conference last week (23-25 November).

This stimulating and thought-provoking event heard from forward thinking farmers and industry professionals, who have travelled the world to bring back the very latest technology and ideas that offer relevant and exciting practical solutions.

A vast range of topics were covered, with everything from alternatives to antibiotics and companion cropping to improving farmer mental health and opportunities for advancing British seabuckthorn as a health food.

One of the highlights was Chris Padfield’s presentation on improving agricultural training and education. He suggested that a more formal farm career ladder should be established within a tiered system. He also reminded delegates of the importance of training, as well as the dangers of failing to train staff.

Another inspirational presentation was from Aled Davies, on alternatives to antibiotics in agriculture. Aled mentioned that resistance problems in farming are down to over-use of antibiotics in human health and that infection can be easily prevented with good husbandry and promoting a healthy immune system.

Some impressive statistics in relation to companion cropping and intercropping were presented by arable farmer, Andy Howard. “There’s potential to produce up to 30% more crop yields while also allowing for a reduction in off farm inputs,” he said – “Something that could be essential to feed the growing population,” commented Mike Vacher, Nuffield Farming director.

“This year we’ve seen an exceptionally high standard of reporting, with Scholars showing both passion and ambition, as well as potential to become tomorrow’s industry leaders.”

During the three-day event, not only did delegates hear Scholars present their findings, but they also saw new Scholars awarded with their Scholarships, listened to industry influencers speak and watched the presentation of annual awards.

The new intake of 2017 Scholars were officially awarded their Scholarships by outgoing Nuffield chairman, Wallace Hendrie. The 19 individuals were fully briefed at the conference, and will embark on their travels in the New Year. They will then present their findings at the 2019 Nuffield conference.

“The conference is always a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight into what’s going on across the globe and the challenges faced by others in the industry, as well as meeting new, forward thinking individuals,” said Mike.

“We would like to thank all our conference sponsors for their support, without them we would be unable to host this important and prestigious industry focused event,” he added.

To find out more about the highly successful conference, read the 2015 Scholars reports and watch the videos of each presentation please visit: www.nuffieldscholar.org.

Award winners

•    The 2016 Steven & Gill Bullock Award for Innovation – Martin Thatcher for putting his Scholarship findings to use in his company, Thatchers Cider

•    HSBC Silver Salver for the best 2014 report – Werner Strydom for his report titled: International strategies to reduce the incidence of campylobacter in broiler flocks

•    John Stewart Shield for the best 2015 presentation – Aled Jones for the presentation of his report titled: Agricultural societies and shows: where do we go from here?

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