Friday 22 March 2013

Nuffield CSC and travels.

Well, the last few weeks have been busy to say the least. On the 21st Feb I visited Harper Adams University in Shropshire to see the work of Prof Simon Blackmore and hear him talk about Precision farming. I was part of a group of 5 2013 Nuffield Scholars and it was nice to visit the place where I spent 2 years of my life 13 years ago!

The following week (mon 25th feb) I was off up the M1 again and this time to Stoneleigh and the offices of my sponsor, HGCA. I had a fantastic time meeting all the dedicated and enthusiastic staff on a tour of the premises with Jonathan Tipples, a near neighbour of mine! I then met with a number of the senior management and presented my study plan for the coming year. We had a very productive time and the support I was given and the contacts available to me were amazing!

I drove home back to Kent with ideas spinning around my head, thinking of all the possibilities my Nuffield Scholarship was unearthing!

I was home for two days before returning to Stoneleigh,this time for the first meeting of BASE-UK. This is a group of farmers and some agronomists and stands for Biodiversity, Agriculture, Soil & Environment. It was a fantastic day and an opportunity to put lots of names to faces, and faces to names! There were some excellent presentations with speakers from the UK, France and Ireland.

On the 6 th of March I was off again and this time I had suitcase in hand! My Nuffield introduction was about to start with 2 days in London at the Pre-CSC (contemporary scholars conference). The group of 22 UK 2013 Nuffield Scholars were joined by 2 from last year (Amy Jackson and Caroline Millar) and the Arden award winners Caroline Drummond and David Northcroft.
We had an excellent 2 days in London meeting with DEFRA and NFU officials as well as a visit to The House of Lords.

This was followed by our CSC in Canada. We spent 5 days in Guelph, Ontario, hearing from many officials, farmers and economists. We had the enjoyment of watching a senior A ice hockey match and tried our hands at Curling.

The final 3 days was spent at Niagra Falls. This allowed the group to travel, see the sights and build contacts with other Nuffield Scholars from around the world!

The final evening we dined at the top of the Skylon Tower, overlooking Niagra Falls! Our speaker that evening was Canadain Nuffield Scholar, Steve Larocque. He is a first generation farmer who practises No-Till farming, is also an agronomist and produces a weekly agronomy newsletter that is sent around the world. For me he was the highlight of the week and I had the pleasure of giving the vote of thanks.

So now it's back to reality! Wet, damp and cold soils are not ideal for spring drilling but we've cleaned 17 ton of spring bean seed in preparation for some planting in the next few weeks.

My wife is now approaching 39 wks pregnant with our 4th child so she is now my No 1 priority!

The next few weeks will be spent planning my Nuffield Travels and I'm hoping to get to Canada, Northern USA, Argentina, Brasil, France, Australia and New Zealand.

The next 12 months will not be boring!  Until next time.