Four extremely capable individuals will benefit from the Farmers Club Charitable Trust’s 2020 Agricultural Educator Awards. Charles Abel reports.
FOUR enthusiastic farming educators have been selected to receive special support from the Farmers Club Charitable Trust, undertaking innovative studies in Brazil, New Zealand, Denmark, USA and The Netherlands.
Over nearly four decades the Trust has provided close to £700,000 of funding to help agricultural educators develop their knowledge and expertise, to support a broad range of UK farming activities.
This year’s successful candidates plan to take a closer look at agri-tech, fish farming, integrated pest management and remote apprenticeship training – as soon as is practicable.
The awards have been made despite the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the trustees feeling it was important to maintain such an important initiative. Even so, the selection panel was delayed, taking place in September rather than the more normal early Spring date.
“We nearly ran the panel in March, but at the very last-minute lockdown just prevented us from doing so,” reflected Trust Ambassador Lisa Turner. “So, we were really pleased to go ahead in the Club in London in September, with candidates travelling from as far afield as Northern Ireland. – it is such an important award designed to help those employed in agricultural education to widen and develop their own technical expertise through study activities either in the UK or abroad. This round of awards has seen the trust distribute £23,300.”
Chair of the selection panel was Prof Quintin McKellar CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, Non-Executive Director of CIEL, and Chair of the University Vocational Awards Council, Pirbright Institute Board of Trustees, and the National Centre for Universities and Business Food Economy Task Force. He was accompanied by 2020 Farmers Club Chairman Allan Stevenson and FCCT Trustees Vic Croxson and Des Lambert OBE.
“It was wonderful to be able to gather in the Club, safely, to meet such inspiring young people, all looking to drive our industry forwards,” noted Farmers Club Chairman Allan Stevenson. “I was delighted by the high standard of applicant and really look forward to hearing how they get on with their travels in due course.”
Dr Jenna Ross, Crop Health Protection (CHAP), Sand Hutton, York – visiting major agri-tech summits in the USA and Brazil on-line, ahead of follow-up visits once covid permits. Learning from innovative farmers, research institutes, innovation networks, advisors, start-ups, accelerators and incubators will improve understanding of agri-tech’s challenges and build collaborations to support the science and innovation UK farming will need post-Brexit.Anticipated visits include Metos Brasil, a leading agri-tech company connecting farmers with innovation hubs, and the FAPESP Pump-Priming Awards linking UK and Brazilian scientists; plus in the USA the Western Growers Innovation and Technology Centre, FARM 2050, Royse AgTech Innovation Network and BlueRiver Tech.
College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Antrim, Northern Ireland – visiting Denmark and The Netherlands to see how technology can support remote learning for apprenticeships and work-based learning. The focus will be on training existing agricultural workers as well as those entering the industry. Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands and Germany have all reformed their Vocational Educational Training so learners can address individual competence needs by acquiring qualifications flexibly through programmes in educational institutions, workplaces and digital learning environments. The study will seek ideas to help train Northern Ireland’s intensive farming sector, with its high demand for a specialised workforce.
University Centre Sparsholt, Winchester – visiting New Zealand and The Netherlands to examine aquaculture for mussels and Kingfish (large mackerel) using land-based recirculating water systems. Visits will consider how each sector has developed in each country, and the educational deliverability of their innovative approaches. With mussel aquaculture production in its infancy in the UK, and Kingfish a new fish species for production in Europe, it is hoped that teaching undergraduate students current production techniques will help support the industry’s development, and help students understand technology advancements, as well as appreciate the benefits and drawbacks of bringing a new product to market.
Newcastle University, Newcastle – comparing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Strategies in the UK and New Zealand, by discussing with farmers, agronomists, researchers and industry what IPM strategies are commonly used, what impacts are being recorded, and just how they are measured. Can IPM help address farming’s big challenges, such as carbon capture? Is extra support needed from science, industry and governments, and how can IPM be better communicated to farmers? Learnings will be applied to student IPM projects on University farm ‘test-beds’, with sensor-based monitoring, providing hands-on experience of new and existing IPM strategies to develop easy-to-use innovations to help accelerate uptake.
CAFRE, Dairy UK and the Ulster Farmers Union organised two successful conferences in CAFRE Greenmount Campus and The Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh in November 2019. The conferences for dairy farmers, titled “Unlock your herd’s potential” focused on improvements in herd performance with reduced antimicrobial use and improved herd management.A number of international and local speakers focused on how they, as farmers, researchers, vets and advisers, promote herd health and subsequent performance by focusing on herd management practices.
Aidan, CAFRE Dairying Adviser, outlined a recently completed study tour, through the Farmers Club Charitable Trust, where he studied the factors that may enhance the lifetime performance of dairy cows entitled:
“Is a 50,000 litre Lifetime Production Herd Average a Reality?”
Aidan discussed his findings and identified areas that farmers can focus on in an attempt to increase herd lifetime averages. Minimising drops in feed intake during transition, maximising feed intakes post calving, reducing age at first calving to 24 months, increasing pre weaning liveweight gains and adjustment of breeding strategies were Aidan’s key points of discussion.
View Aidan's presentation and information on the CAFRE Knowledge Transfer webpage.
Lisa has recently been appointed to support the Trustees in promoting the bursaries and grants that the trust offers to the agricultural community (in both education, farming and allied industries).
Trustees identified a need to improve the communication and broadcasting of outomes to a wider audience to maximises the benefits from the Trust's activities.
With a background in both agriculture and education Lisa will become a key point of contact for colleges, universities and industries looking to expand their knowledge and skills through professional development of their staff.
Lisa said, "I am passionate about agriculture and recognise the importance of education in ensuring its continued sustainability, to assist personally through this role will be extremely rewarding."
Soon after starting her role Lisa was invited to the Landex Spring Conference and met with Further and Higher Education leaders to explain more about the Trust and the opportunities that could be available to them.
Anyone wanting to speak to Lisa can contact her through the 'contact us page' or
Telephone: 07879 625660
Innovative studies into robotic milking, re-wilding and remote apprenticeship training chosen by the Farmers Club Charitable Trust Educator Award selection panel led by Prof Quintin McKellar CBE
Three UK farming educators have been selected to receive special support from the Farmers Club Charitable Trust in 2019 to undertake innovative studies into robotic milking, re-wilding and remote apprenticeship training.
Prof Quintin McKellar CBE chaired the FCCT Educator Awards selection panel, which also included 2019 Farmers Club Chairman Nick Helme, FCCT Trustees Vic Croxson, James Cross and Des Lambert OBE and Farmers Club Journal Editor Charles Abel.
The three successful applicants are:
Prof Quintin McKellar
FCCT Educator Awards Selection Panel Chairman Prof Quintin McKellar has been Scientific Director and Chief Executive of the Moredun Research Institute, Principal of the Royal Veterinary College of the University of London, a member of the Government Chief Scientist Steering Group on Animal and Plant Health and is now vice-chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire. He is a Board member of Universities UK, chair of the University Vocational Awards Council and the Board of Trustees of Pirbright Institute, co-chair of the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) Food Economy Task Force, and Non-Executive Director of the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock.
For more details about the FCCT Educator Awards, which have funded over £670,000 of study tours over the past 39 years, see: FCCT Reports.
Closing date for the 2020 awards is likely to be early February.
The Farmers Club Charitable Trust continues to innovate – this year adopting a fresh approach to developing educators as well as stepping up its focus on leadership. Charles Abel reports.
FIVE excellent UK farming educators have been selected to receive special support from the Farmers Club Charitable Trust in 2018, with a special focus on dairying and apprenticeships.
With some common themes emerging during selection interviews the panel took the unprecedented step of calling a round-table fine-tuning exercise earlier this spring, so all five applicants could combine forces to deliver an overall package to the Club, the industry, and their students.
“It’s a case of one and one adding up to a lot more than two,” noted Club Vice-Chairman Nick Helme, who sat on the panel. “With apprenticeships, dairying, welfare and sustainable intensification bubbling up throughout the short-listed candidates it was an obvious step to call them together to see if we could make this something more than the sum of the parts.”
Selection panel chairman Prof Ian Crute CBE, former AHDB Chief Scientist, endorsed the approach. “The Trust bursary scheme aims to develop up-and-coming educators, by funding a study tour, often overseas. By working together we believe this year’s cohort will benefit from each other as well as the travels they do.”
The fine-tuning day held in the Forty Room at the Club in late April ensured any potential duplication was avoided, and more importantly helped to further develop the concepts being explored. “Our aim was to help applicants benefit each other, and it proved very worthwhile, with lots of fresh thinking emerging to deliver more focus to the projects being undertaken,” commented FCCT trustee and chair for the day Des Lambert OBE, principal of Plumpton College in East Sussex from 2003-2015.
New FCCT trustee Meryl Ward MBE, chair of AHDB Pork until March 2017, was especially keen to see how the beneficiaries could co-ordinate activities. A WhatsApp group to share experiences and pose questions during the research phase was an immediate outcome.
Full reports of the studies will be available on this website in due course, with summaries in future issues of the The Farmers Club Journal.
In most years the Trust makes grants of over £20,000. In 2010, despite the economic downturn, grants totalling £30,000 were made, in support of studies in Uruguay, Uganda, Canada, Australia, Germany and the USA. The diversity of subjects (see list) is a wonderful testament to the enthusiasm of the applicants and highlights the very great value to the whole UK farming industry.
Over the years beneficiaries have come mainly from educational establishments and the extension services throughout the United Kingdom. Having served as ambassadors of the Farmers Club and UK farming during their study tours many have gone on to play leading roles in the education sector. Reports published in the Journal highlight the very high quality of the award recipients and the excellence of their work.
The post-graduate award assists those employed in agricultural education, aged 22 to 50, to widen and develop their own technical expertise outside the UK, enhancing their own career prospects and ultimately benefitting all the students for which they are responsible by sharing their experiences with future generations working in farming and the allied industries and professions.
The closing date for applicants is mid-February each year, with interviews of short-listed candidates conducted in mid-March and grants awarded thereafter, for post-graduate short-term study tours, normally overseas and rarely exceeding six weeks.
Thirty years ago the Farmers Club Charitable Trust was established to “promote the science and technology of agriculture in all its aspects for the public benefit”. Three decades later the Trust has delivered more than £500,000 of funding for a wide range of farming projects, taking UK agriculturalists to all four corners of the globe.
At its inception the Trustees were keen to broaden the experience of those educating future generations of agriculturalists, and to facilitate the exchange of academic knowledge. Thirty years later, with the industry facing new challenges and an urgent need for a better public understanding of valuable and proven new science, I cannot envisage a more laudable goal.
The Trust always welcomes new funds by way of donation or legacies to maintain this valuable work and to add to the Trust endowment funds. If you feel that you, or an individual, organisation or trust you know can help, please contact Club Secretary/Chief Executive, Andrei Spence, in confidence.
Over the past 30 years more than 120 travel bursaries have supported projects as diverse as fish farming in Japan and Korea, value-added milk production in Australia, share farming in New Zealand and viticulture in California. The farming implications of global positioning, biotechnology, food legislation and molecular science have all come under scrutiny.
The brainchild of the late Trevor Muddiman,the Trust made its first grants in 1981,initially funded by donations and covenants from Farmers Club members, generously matched by the late Sir John Eastwood. In the late 1990s Trevor Muddiman’s wife, Stella, who is now a valued trustee, very generously transferred assets from a private family trust to the Farmers Club Charitable Trust. Over the years other club members and their families have also made very generous gifts to the trust funds.
This has ensured that the Trust continues to meet its objectives of disseminating information, providing bursaries, or courses connected with the study of agriculture, and supporting activities calculated in particular to advance education and training in agriculture.