Friday, 12 August 2011

You Too!...... Should Be a Nuffield Scholar

How “People Sustainable is your Farm Business”?

One very important component of a Sustainable pasture based dairy farm is how sustainable is it for the people within the farm business? I want to look at a number of different aspects of this question related to people sustainability within a dairy farm business & how you might manage this better in your business.
The first aspect I want to consider is the ongoing self education & training required by the owners & key players of the business. Most full time farmers have limited opportunities for organised or formal tertiary training, although there are some courses out there that are very useful. Most of the adult learning & business training that happens on farms has to be “self directed learning”. You organise it. You manage it yourself. This shouldn’t come as a surprise nor should it concern anyone within the “Pasture to Profit” network of pasture based dairy farmers in the UK & France. After all the farm Discussion Groups are self organised to meet self directed learning needs.
However the groups effective as they are (if they are well run using well trained professional facilitators….I’m horrified to hear that some groups that have tried going it alone are crashing), it’s only the beginning of what needs to be ongoing self learning. If you don’t & if not enough British & French farmers get off the farm & go to see what is happening overseas we will rapidly get isolated & left behind.
Have you considered a Nuffield Scholarship?
Within the Pasture to Profit network there are about 30 current or recent Nuffields (including several from NZ & Australia). Nuffield scholarships provide a fantastic opportunity to “get away” from the farm, to travel & to study an area of personal interest. Nuffield is open for business as applications for 2012 close on the 15th November 2011. Nuffield needs farmers with passion & drive, both men & women (Fiona Hillman was a very successful Nuffield from the Wyegraze DG) Nuffield is also available in France. Apply now online......
Most Nuffield Scholars describe it as a life changing experience. Often the farm business changes significantly & people look at new opportunities. When you get away you have a unique opportunity to look back at your business like you’ve never done before.
One very important aspect of doing a Nuffield is the life long networking with passionate effective farmers from all round the world. We are very fortunate to have so many recent Nuffields in our network. Here is an opportunity to talk to them about Nuffield either on the phone or Facebook. There are 25 Nuffields in the online Facebook group.
Recent Nuffield Scholars
Tim Downes, Shropshire
Tim Wall, Devon.
Roly Tavernor, Shropshire
Will Edwards, Monmouthshire
Fiona Hillman, Monmouthshire,
Robert Richmond, Gloucestershire (currently travelling in Australia)
This week I met John Stones up in North Wales. I explained how I viewed the importance of Nuffield to the pasture based dairy farmers. Firstly it’s really important to the ongoing development of our best people. Secondly, we as a group have virtually no research being conducted in the UK for our sector. The returning Nuffield scholars bring back the latest information & research implications & how the new information might be applied on farm here. Thirdly, they challenge the Discussion Groups thinking with the new ideas. Lastly it extends & enhances our network worldwide.
Another travel scholarship available to UK farmers is the Churchill Travel Fellowships.  
These Fellowships have no upper age limit but are only available for 4-8 weeks of travelling study. Applications for 2012 close on the 4th October 2011.
Many county shows also offer travel awards mainly for young farmers & ofcourse YFC encourage overseas travel & exchange.
All good Discussion Groups in the UK need to travel overseas much more than in the past & to many more countries.
You have to be in to win. Talk to recent scholars about their experiences & we’ll back you. I will give you as much help as you need & plenty of needle to apply too.
Pasture Growth Update.
Current Pasture Covers & Growth Rates this week.
South Ayrshire, Scotland, AFC 2300kgs DM/ha, Pasture Growth 53kgsDM/ha/day
Dumfries, Scotland, 2190, growth 90, demand 37.
North Wales, 2178, growth 58, demand 56 excellent rain (Tom got soaked this week)
Hereford organic, 2154, gr34, de38, 2nd week of slow growth
Gloucestershire, 2100, gr 38, cover now 200kgs behind budget.
Oxfordshire, 2000, gr 25, had 25mm rain but growth slow to respond
Dorset Organic, 2605, gr 54, fields vary from 24 to 100kgs growth
Dorset, 2455, gr 64, demand 40, clover VG this year
East Sussex, 2010, gr 20, grazing 4500kgs stored grass with dries "Life is Good"...obviously watching cricket this week!
Pembrokeshire, SW Wales, 2344, gr 72, de 63 good rain expect good result Saturday at Cardiff
South Kilkenny, Ireland, AFC 2146, growth 54, demand 51, 25 day rotation

Rhys Williams, North Wales a Nuffield last year with visiting group

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