Tag Archives: education

RAU vice-chancellor says farming must shed ‘tweedy’ image

The vice-chancellor of the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) at Cirencester, Joanna Price, has said that farming must shed its image of tweed land owners if the industry is to survive Brexit.

Professor Price told The Times, “We have an image of being populated by men wearing tweed jackets with leather patches and yellow cords. Hopefully, having a face like mine at the university will change that.” She grew up on a smallholding in Wales and started her career as a veterinary surgeon.

The comments drew a mixed response on social media and elsewhere in the farming press, with some ex RAU university students saying the university needed to sort out its own image first: in a Tatler article last year one student boasted about owning nine Schöffel fleece gilets. However, many farmers agreed that agriculture needs to do much more to educate the public and potential employees about how dynamic and science-led it is.

Photo Caption: Professor Joanna Price

Photo Credit: Royal Agricultural University

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Free summer school for aspiring crop protection students

BBSRC is funding a week long Crop Protection Summer School (CROPPS) in July at Harper Adams University for undergraduates in their first or second year at universities in the UK or Ireland.

There are 15 places available on the course, in which participants will be able to immerse themselves in the areas of entomology, plant pathology, weed science, nematology, applied ecology, fieldwork and networking.

Professor Simon Leather, one of the event organisers, said, “Each day during the week we’ll be looking at a different aspect related to crop protection. There’ll be a large emphasis on practical experience; going out into the field and doing practical lab work. There’ll be some lecture-style sessions, but the majority will be hands-on.”

There are just 15 places available and the deadline for applications is 7 April 2017. The application form can be found here. For more information, contact sleather@harper-adams.ac.uk.

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NIAB EMR consortium wins crop research funding

An industry consortium, led by Berry Gardens Growers Ltd (BGG) and NIAB EMR, has won a BBSRC collaborative training partnership (CTP) award to provide a £1.9 million postgraduate programme for scientific research on fruit crops.

The programme, which will be based at NIAB EMR in Kent and run from October 2017 to September 2023, includes 16 four-year PhD studentships in core research areas such as plant breeding, plant pathology, entomology, soil science, plant physiology and crop agronomy.

Dr Nicola Harrison, NIAB EMR CTP science co-ordinator, said, “The CTP award will help us produce an innovative and exceptional postgraduate research training programme that will engage and train the next generation of scientists to deliver strategic research that will help secure the future of UK horticulture. Researchers from Cambridge, Nottingham and Reading, and colleagues at NIAB EMR, will produce a research portfolio that ensures the translation of cutting-edge research through to the wider industry.”

The industry partners forming the consortium span the supply chain and include Berry Gardens Growers Ltd, Worldwide Fruit Ltd, M&W Mack Ltd, Univeg UK Ltd, and the National Association of Cider Makers, as well as Marks & Spencer plc. The over-arching knowledge exchange capability is provided by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

BGG’s Richard Harnden said, “This pioneering partnership between businesses, research providers and AHDB will provide a world-class horticultural and bioscience UK research training programme to address the scientific challenges faced by agri-businesses, from crop production, food quality and supply, through to consumer preference and reducing waste in the supply chain.”

Photo Caption: East Malling will be the base for the new students

Photo Credit: NIAB EMR

This story first appeared on HortNews.

AHDB calls for studentship proposals

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is inviting applications for a slice of £1 million in funding for postgraduate studentships.

A call for proposals for up to 15 PhDs has been issued to UK universities, colleges and research institutes as part of work to develop a new tranche of agricultural and horticultural scientific expertise. The funding supplied by AHDB equates to £70,500 per studentship, which can be split over three or four years, and this is the first time that studentships in every AHDB sector have received the same level of funding.

Applicants must detail how the proposed research will help meet the priorities of one or more of the six levy sectors – Beef & Lamb, Cereals & Oilseeds, Dairy, Horticulture, Pork and Potatoes. They must also demonstrate how projects will deliver useful and relevant research outcomes.

AHDB’s Kim Matthews, who chairs the studentship programme, said, “Once again we are seeking the best and brightest of the UK’s scientific talent to bring innovative research ideas to the table. We want to see practical, applied scientific solutions to the challenges facing industry, whether affecting one particular sector or with applications across the piece.”

Photo Credit: AHDB

The post AHDB calls for studentship proposals appeared first on Hort News on 15 July 2016.

Defra refuses to back EU school scheme

According to a report, British ministers in Brussels failed to back EU plans to engage with children by encouraging farm visits and eating more fruit and vegetables.

Farmers Weekly said that the UK had abstained from the vote while delegates from Hungary and The Netherlands had voted against the proposals which would also promote the consumption of milk and which were passed at the meeting on 11 April.

The new scheme will have an annual budget of €250 million (£201 million) when it comes into force in August 2017 and will see selected agricultural products supplied to schools in a bid to promote healthy eating habits and local food.

The post Defra refuses to back EU school scheme appeared first on Hort News on 15 April 2016.

Thanet Earth hires staff following scheme with Hadlow College

A second group of students from Hadlow College in Kent have graduated from the Movement to Work initiative at Thanet Earth, which is run in conjunction with the College’s Apprenticeships, Business and Community section.

Five of the participants, all of whom were selected for the scheme from the local area by Job Centre Plus, were offered full-time roles with the company after graduation. During the four week course the students to spent time working in all operational areas of the Thanet Earth business, together with in-house HACCP food safety training and sessions on interview skills and preparation of a CV with tutors from Hadlow.

Lesley Gregson, Hadlow College’s Lecturer in Employability Skills, said: “It’s been hugely rewarding to see the academy members’ confidence increase as the course progresses and the end result is fantastic: five people given the boost they needed to enter employment with a highly reputable local business.” The first group of five students graduated from the scheme last December.

The post Thanet Earth hires staff following scheme with Hadlow College appeared first on Hort News from 23 March 2016.

Syngenta launches student Farm Tech Challenge

Syngenta is looking for UK students between the ages of 11 and 19 to enter its Farm Tech Challenge.

Students are challenged to ‘plan, deliver, evaluate and report on a project that uses digital technology to address one of the themes of The Good Growth Plan.’ These are: making crops more efficient; rescuing more farmland (protecting soil and reducing erosion); helping biodiversity flourish; empowering smallholders and helping people stay safe.

Entries must involve the design and development of a programmable digital system to gather data, process it and produce a useful output.

As well as guides for students and teachers, Syngenta has also developed a ‘Schools’ Media Pack’ to help those teachers taking part in the project raise awareness of their school and students’ involvement in The Farm Tech Challenge and get the best media coverage.

Jim Morton, Outreach Manager, Syngenta, explains, “The future of agriculture is very exciting and there is enormous potential for the application of technology to help us meet the challenge of sustainably feeding a growing population. We are delighted to give students an opportunity to take part in this Challenge where they will gain the experience of developing real-life innovations, together with the skills and knowledge that are relevant to a range of STEM-related careers.”

As well Syngenta, the Challenge is supported by a number of organisations including the Institute of Agricultural Engineers, the University of Manchester, Harper Adams University, Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) and others. Full details can be found at: www.farmtechchallenge.co.uk

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Sainsbury’s calls for farming apprentices

With the farming industry requiring 60,000 new employees by 2020 simply to replace existing farmers, Sainsbury’s is calling on young adults to consider a career in farming as it opens applications for its horticultural and agricultural apprenticeship programme.

The Sainsbury’s apprenticeship programme, which is run in partnership with Staffline, gives young people aged 16 and above the chance to work with some of the retailer’s most progressive food suppliers, many of whom use the latest innovations and technology in the sector – from learning the digital infrastructure of glasshouse computer systems to managing crop growth through the use of drones and smart phone apps.

Every 12 weeks apprentices visit different growers in Sainsbury’s supply chain, while in between visits they learn the practical aspects of their chosen career from harvesting; identifying and dealing with pests, diseases and disorders; planting; monitoring moisture and nutrients; pruning and use of state-of-the art equipment and digital tools.

Robert Honeysett, Sainsbury’s Horticultural Manager, said, “Our research reveals there’s a significant gap between what young people think of farming, and some of the jobs that are available today. We’re passionate in playing our part to support the future of British farming, and help attract young people into the industry.

“A third of those surveyed assume they need a family connection to break into the sector, which isn’t the case. We hope our apprenticeship programme will help show that there are a number of alternative routes into farming, and we’d encourage school leavers and young professionals to consider it.  It’s one of the most dynamic industries in the UK to work in.”

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New teaching modules in organic farming & horticulture

The Soil Association and Bridgwater College’s Cannington Centre have teamed up to offer new modules in organic farming and horticulture within the college’s range of undergraduate qualifications.

Cannington’s Head of Land based provision, Jeremy Kerswell, said, “We have seen a growth in the demand for new sustainable farming practices from producers and growers, across our engagement with employers in agriculture and horticultural industries. This exciting partnership is vital to ensuring that the future needs of the industry are met.”

From September 2015, students on the Higher National Certificate in Horticulture will study organic principles and practices as a core module. The college will offer tailored intermediate and advanced level apprenticeships in organic agriculture and horticulture. The college is also developing a new module within the BSc Hons. in Agriculture focusing on organic principles and practices, to run from September 2016.

Both modules will feature speakers from the Soil Association as well as expert organic farmers and growers. The modules will also be available as stand-alone courses for people wanting to develop their knowledge of organic horticulture and agriculture.

Liz Bowles Head of Farming at the Soil Association added, “We are delighted to be working with Cannington to support the introduction of these new modules and qualifications in organic farming. These new qualifications will enable more young people to find out about organic farming practices and how they might apply them within their careers in the land based sector.”

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