Future Farming Group
The Future Farming Group (FFG) was set up in 2011 as a collaboration between leading agricultural organisations from across the South West.
In response to industry feedback, Bridgwater College invited selected partner institutions to work together on a number of joint initiatives for the benefit of the agricultural sector. These focused on providing training, research and professional development opportunities to reflect the changing priorities of the sector, with best practice and innovation at the heart.
Since its inception, the group has successfuly implemented a number of events and initiatives and membership has grown to include the following organisations:
- Alta Genetics UK
- Alvis Bros. Ltd.
- Bakers of Haselbury Plucknett Ltd.
- Charlie King Agriculture Ltd.
- Cricketer Farm
- DeLaval Ltd.
- Elanco Animal Health UK
- FarmVets Southwest Ltd.
- Micron Bio-Systems Ltd.
- Mole Valley Farmers Ltd.
- Mole Valley Forage Systems Ltd.
- Muller Wiseman Dairies Ltd.
- National Farmers Union (NFU)
- School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol
- UNIFORM Agri UK
- Velcourt Group plc
- Yeo Valley Farms Ltd.
- Young Farmers Club.
The group has successfully run three 'Dairy Improvement' events, engaging dairy farmers from across the region in sharing best practice.
The first of these, Maximising Dairy Profit, took place in April 2012 and included a presentation on efficient production by Tom King, a dairy farmer and the 2011 NMR/RABDF Gold Cup winner, plus talks on various other topics from industry guest speakers.
The subsequent event, Profit into Practice, took place in November 2012 and included practical fertility tips and an analysis of farm records delivered by Professor David Barrett (University of Bristol) nad Graham Nowell (UNIFORM), again followed by industry guest speakers.
The most recent event, Innovation in the Dairy Herd, took place on Monday 15 July and was attended by over 40 people. The event included tours of the Bristol Vet School's Wyndhurst Farm and Alvis Bros. Ltd's Regilbury Park Farm, with Ian Tremaine, the 2009 Nuffield Scholarship winner, as the afternoon's guest speaker.
Future Farming Academy
During the intial consultation meetings, the group immediately recognised that there was a need for new entrants to the industry with management potential.
It was therefore agreed to create a mechanism whereby young people could be fast-tracked into appropriate management positions—the Future Farming Academy. The basis of the Academy was that second year Level 3 agricultural students at the College would be targeted as a potential talent pool and undergo a rigorous selection process in order to access a 6-month training programme.
The three core elements of the Academy are as follows:
- Industry Placement: each Academy student will complete two 3-month placements with approved businesses and, in doing so, have open access to all aspects of the business, including the management and decision-making processes
- Industry visits: each fortnight, the student will visit another farm business for the day, shadowing all aspects of the day-to-day operation in order to gain a full understanding of how differing agricultural businesses work together and influence each other
- Managment training: students will also have the opportunity to undertake an initial leadership and management qualification whilst also receiving close guidance and supervision from management experts within the College and completing a 6-month project.
Members of the FFG have kindly offered to sponsor students on the Academy programme.
After a rigorous selection process that included representatives from FarmVets Southwest Ltd. and Micron Bio-Systems Ltd., the first two students have been successfully recruited to the Academy programme for 2013. Matthew Woollaston and Anthony Millar have both recently completed their Level 3 agriculture qualification and are delighted to have this opportunity to expand and develop their knowledge and experience on the programme.
Matthew is 20 years old and comes from Wiveliscombe. He will begin his programme with a 3-month placement at Alvis Bros. Ltd. before moving on to work at the University of Bristol's Vet School in Langford.
Anthony is 19 years old and comes from Taunton. His first placement is with Bakers of Haselbury Plucknett Ltd. and he will then move on to Tom King's farm in Dorchester.
Look out for the FFG on Facebook to find out more about Matt and Anthony's first few weeks.
If you would like to know more about the FFG or forthcoming events and initiatives, please contact either Jeremy Kerswell, the College's Head of Land-based Studies, or Steve Jones, Farm Manager, on 01278 655003.