Sunday, 25 November 2012

Starting My Nuffield Study

Well, what can I say and where do I start?
On Thursday last week Andrea and I headed to the Stratford Manor Hotel to begin my first ever Nuffield briefing and conference.  We were met by 21 other 2013 Scholars (and partners) all about to begin the next two years of International study and what an electric atmosphere there was in that room. There were people there from all over the country; from Scotland, Cornwall, Kent and everywhere else in between, all with one thing in common.  They (we) all share a passion for their farming sector, a desire to improve our industry and to grow and develop themselves. In the words of the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust who's mission is.....
"Leading positive change in agriculture, inspiring passion and potential in people"
Following on from Thursday evening, a lovely dinner at the Heritage Motor Museum, we started the conference bright and early on Friday.  There were some fascinating topics all very professionally presented by the 2011 scholars.  A lot to live up to!  Topics included, top fruit competitiveness, creating national niche' products, family farm succession, managing larger dairy units and maximising timber value from UK woodlands, among others.  After a short break we were all presented with our Nuffield ties, for the guys and brooches for the girls, by Peter Kendall (NFU President).  Here is the picture of  Tanya Robbins from Grafton (next door farm to me at Overbury) me and Jane Currill (far left-secretary of the Central Region Farmers Trust), with Stephen Watkins and Peter Kendall.  The CRFT is one of many of the trusts that actually put up the sponsorship money to enable the scholars to travel and study.  I think I am the 7th or 8th scholar they have sponsored and for this opportunity I am very grateful, so thank you.
The annual dinner followed the awards later in the evening and my name was first out of the hat for the raffle, so I picked out a pedal tractor from Chris Tallis Farm Machinery.  (Small world- but shhhh don't tell Jorja!).  The presentations resumed on Saturday morning, not so bright but early, a very inspiring line up of presentations.  These included, sustainable agriculture, soil fertility and fertiliser use efficiency, rebuilding soil carbon (Rob - fellow CRFT scholar), price risk management and grain supply chains. 
We met some very interesting people all at the top of their farming sectors and all willing to help and support, all you have to do is ask.  It was very uplifting, positive and alleviated some apprehension about what I had got myself into!.  Now for the next bit, my subject!  That's coming up in another blog but I'll leave you with a thought, 9billion people in the world how are we going to feed them?
I think I'm going to need to drive one of these to fit everything in, so hold onto your hats, keep following the blog and join me on my adventure of a lifetime!

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