Virtual Field Day: Multispecies Leys

Date and Time
Thu, 21 May 2020
11:30 – 13:00

This virtual event is part of a 2 part series in a collaboration between Agricology, Duchy College, AgriTech Cornwall, FABulous Farmers, CFE , FWAGSW and Rothamsted Research.

Multispecies leys combine complementary grass, legume and herb species. A more diverse sward can provide greater resilience to climate extremes, benefits for animal health, soil quality and biodiversity. Learning about multispecies leys is a work in progress and this event will provide opportunity to join farmers, advisors and researchers in the virtual field to share ideas and experiences.

For more information and how to register, please click here.

World-renowned rural leadership course hailed huge success

One of the world’s leading rural leadership courses is celebrating the conclusion of another successful year.The Challenge of Rural Leadership course, now in its 24th year, was lauded by delegates and organisers.

Managed by the Rural Business School (RBS) at Duchy College, part of The Cornwall College Group, on behalf of the Worshipful Company of Farmers, delegates from across the globe came to Dartington Hall in Devon to undertake the intensive and rewarding programme.

They have returned to their businesses with new found confidence and skills to enable them to thrive in an ever-changing agricultural industry, according to Director of RBS, Richard Soffe.

“It was great to work with another outstanding group of international, high potential managers on the Challenge of Rural Leadership this year, as well as using WH Bond as a local case study,” he explained.

The Worshipful Company of Farmers chair of education Richard Davies, along with the Master David Bolton and other members of the company, joined the course for several sessions. Everyone was impressed with the beautiful Dartington Hall, and the enthusiasm of the delegates.

Two Nuffield scholars from Australia were in attendance, along with the Head of Arable for AHDB, and the Agriculture Consultant for McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd.

“Our very own degree students got the opportunity to listen to guest speaker Professor Allan Buckwell do a session on Climate Change and another on Sustainable Food Systems,” Richard added.

The first week of the course formed a case study that focused on a local business. The delegates had an overview of every process that currently makes the business work.

During the second week, the focus turned to the individual. There were sessions on psychometrics, the media, time-management and how to present yourself under scrutiny. There were also a large range of guest speakers, all of whom brought a unique perspective on their own paths to leadership.

Farmer, parish councillor and Natural England sector lead, Martin Hoddinott, said: “The confidence and inspiration the Duchy College team have shown us is a complete life changer for me and I’m fairly sure I can speak for every member of our group.”

Assurance Manager with LEAF, Jennifer Clark, said the course “has impacts that cannot be adequately put into words”.

Richard said he was greatly looking forward to the 25th Worshipful Company of Farmers’ Challenge of Rural Leadership.

“The application process has just reopened on the Rural Business School website,” he added.

BVD Stamp It Out Project

Duchy College’s Rural Business School (RBS) has helped to sign up just over 2,000 farmers on to the BVD Stamp It Out Project. This is a massive 74% of the overall SW target, with lots more work projected to happen over the winter months.

These farmers are spread over 37 different vet practices, with another five practices yet to start delivery of the project. The map below reflects the number of farmers, with each dot representing a signed-up farm, with each colour depicting the vet practice with which that farm works.

The RBS supported a successful bid by the Scottish Rural College (SRUC) and SAC Consulting to deliver the EU/Defra- funded ‘Bovine Viral Diarrhoea disease (BVD) – Stamp It Out’ project, aiming to engage 8,000 herds across England.

The methodologies to control BVD through the highly acclaimed RBS Healthy Livestock (HL), which ran from 2010-14 have been taken up in the three-year BVD Stamp It Out project, which runs until 2021.

New Soils Project with the Tamar Valley AONB

The Tamar Valley AONB, together with the National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB), has been successful in securing funding to conduct tests and trials to help shape the development of agricultural policy and payments to farmers. The future of the Basic Farm Payment and Agri-environment schemes will be replaced with the Environment Land Management System (ELMS).

The Test and Trial project is focused on Soil Organic Carbon (SOC). Soil Carbon is a good indicator of soil health, biological activity within the soil and is reflective of biodiversity above ground. As such, higher levels of soil organic matter can be linked to water quality, drought and flood resilience, as well as sinking and sequestering Carbon from the atmosphere. Therefore there is a strong argument that a payment directly related to Soil Organic Carbon can be seen as delivering public goods.

From an agricultural and business perspective, healthy soils with increasing soil organic matter levels can also be related to consistent sustainable agricultural productivity. The test and trial is therefore looking to road test new to market technology, namely soil scanners. We are seeking to see if they are reliable, accurate and consistent in how they measure the level and amount of soil Carbon. If the technology can deliver good results, it opens up a new revenue options for farmers to be rewarded in a very different way.

This project is being delivered with Duchy College Rural Business School, the Farm Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) and the National Association of AONBs and is funded by Defra.

Farm safety top of agenda for young farmers

In a bid to help tackle the number of accidents that take place on farms, agricultural colleges in the region are continuing to highlight the critical issue among students.

The number of fatal accidents on farms is refusing to drop, with 167 people killed in the last five years, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Farm safety experts spent a day working with around 60 Agriculture apprentices and students at Duchy College Stoke Climsland to highlight the issues.

Specialist for the Farm Safety Foundation, Stephanie Berkeley said the problem of accidents on farms is “not going away”.

“We are not naive enough to believe we can solve this entirely but by digging deeper into the detail and engaging with the younger farmer, we have found that significant improvements in behaviour are possible,” she explained.

“As the farmers of the future, young people with a solid knowledge of safe working practices will have a greater capability to make informed and safe decisions which stands the industry in greater stead. Working closely with highly committed colleges like Duchy, it is hoped that together we can make a difference and change attitudes to health and safety in tomorrow’s farming community.”

The workshop was held at the Duchy Home Farm and involved the students visiting four accident scenes. The scenarios included 2 machinery-related incidents, a fall from height and a crushing injury from working in a pen with cattle.

The students then spent time working out what had happened at each one, deciding what immediate action should be taken in each case, contemplating First Aid implications and deciding what measures should be taken to prevent the accident happening in the future.

Level 2 Agriculture Student, George McIntyre, said it had been “a really good morning”.

“It was all based outside rather than in a classroom and I liked the way we went around to the different scenes and had to work out what had happened,” he explained.

“The instructors gave us information to help us do this. I have learnt a lot!”

Falls constitute one of the most common farm accidents and accounted for 23 fatal accidents in the last five years. It’s hoped that by targeting young people it may help to influence the older generation.

“Young people are such an important target group for this farm safety message as the future of the industry,” said Curriculum Lead for Work Based Learning, Roger Clarke.

“As technology advances within farming, the risk of accidents can actually increase,” he continued.

“While the safety of machinery and equipment has improved, the fact that machines can do so much more can make people complacent. It’s fantastic to have an outside organisation like the Farm Safety Foundation come in to help us deliver this vital message and for the students to face scenarios they could come across on their own farms when they go home or in their future workplace.”

Principal Phil Le Grice, said it was a great opportunity to be able to host the event for students.

“By helping raise awareness of farm safety among young farmers, challenging and changing their attitudes towards farming safely and reducing the toll of injuries and fatalities, we can help make this industry a safer place to work in,” he added.

‘Dairy Farm of the Future’ breaks ground in South West

In a huge boon for the South West’s agriculture sector, Cornwall is set to boast a major research and innovation dairy farm.Future Farm, located at Duchy College Stoke Climsland, will be a first of its type for England with the aim of improving efficiency, welfare and technological advancement in dairy farming.

The facility will encourage SMEs across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to engage in research at a local, national and international level.

Future Farm will also benefit the next generation of workers and leaders in the sector, with Duchy College Stoke Climsland students in Cornwall and Bicton College students in Devon heavily involved, according to Principal of the Colleges, Dr Phil Le Grice.

“This is an incredible resource for the South West, one that will benefit the dairy and environment sector in many ways,” he said.

“The importance of this project can’t be understated and is why we are delighted Minister of State Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), George Eustice MP, has agreed to cut the turf to mark the start of the build.

“Politically, economically, environmentally, socially and culturally, Cornwall and Devon must seek to lead and shape its technological and business future.

“Future Farm is a demonstrable commitment to the sector, its current and future businesses and all of the students who will use the facility in the future.”

George Eustice, MP for Camborne & Redruth said the launch of the Future Farm project” is a fantastic step forward in research and innovation for the agricultural sector”.

“As a former student, it’s encouraging to see the college embrace new technologies that have the potential to lead and shape the sector for years to come,” he added.

Future Farm will be home to 200 cows that can be grouped into three mini-herds to research the latest innovations in dairy, according to Paul Ward, Research Manager of Duchy College’s Rural Business School.

“This is fantastic news for the agricultural sector, not only in the South West, but the UK and beyond,” he explained.

“Future Farm will support the introduction of computerised precision control feeding systems to the UK and will help tackle the urgent requirement of increasing the competitiveness of businesses within the dairy/livestock industry and supply chain.”

Major investment

Paul, who spent 25 years specialising in dairy production in Peru, Sudan, Oman, Egypt and Nicaragua, including working with the Department for international Development, said this was the first major investment in dairy research in the region in decades.

“Since the 1980s research has significantly reduced, and with so much change in the industry and the potential reduced or changed nature of support with regards to Brexit, this is a welcome positive for farmers, the agricultural sector and the wider region,” he explained.

“Dairy is the main economic driver within South West agriculture, with 40% of the national production based in the region, including the largest Cheddar cheese factory in Europe at Davidstow.

“This facility will allow us to research lowering dairy’s carbon footprint, improve and reduce the impact on the environment and reduce levels of disease. It is also the only facility in the country that will allow the mini-herds slurry to be kept separate, which is invaluable for research purposes.”

Head of Duchy College Stoke Climsland, Jamie Crisp said having an innovative research and development dairy farm in the heart of Cornwall is “fantastic news”.

“We’ve been successful to date with an older dairy unit,” he said.

“However, with new technical and scientifically demanding qualifications, to be able to boast a cutting-edge facility and associated resources that will allow for the top level of teaching, is wonderful.

“There is solid investment into Duchy College Stoke Climsland and Bicton College, and staff and learners are extremely excited about their Colleges’ futures.”

Farms Director at TCCG, James Coumbe, agreed, and said students would be at the heart of the operation of the new facility.

“This will be a world-class educational experience for our learners, from apprentices doing their initial training right through to those on a degree-level programme,” he said.

“Farming is changing in this digital age and it is important that when learners attend Duchy College they experience the most up-to-date and future-focussed agricultural facilities and learning.”

Partnerships

Future Farm will build upon the work that is taking place at the world-renowned Rothamsted Research’ North Wyke Farm Platform.

The facility will bring systems dairy research to align with the National Capability in Beef and Sheep systems research at the North Wyke Farm Platform.

The project is part funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is part of the wider Agri-tech Cornwall project in partnership with University of Exeter, University of Plymouth, Rothamsted Research and Cornwall Development Company.

The project is part funded by Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly

There is also support from the Centre for International Excellence in Livestock (CIEL). Duchy College has ‘Category A’ membership of CIEL which provides a focused gateway to 12 world-class national research centres to develop industry-needed solutions as well as commercial trial farms for real world results.

Robin Jackson, Director, Agri-tech Cornwall Project said Future Farm will see some of “Britain’s most progressive scientists, students and entrepreneurs work with Duchy College’s herds to drive further improvements in the efficiency and sustainability of dairy farmers”.

“This innovative research facility will play a key part in helping the dairy sector take advantage of the opportunities presented by – and tackle the challenges of – the 21st century,” he continued.

“Agri-tech has the potential to feed the world’s growing population and mitigate climate change, in tandem with boosting profit and efficiency at an individual farm level – and Future Farm will be at the heart of such ambitions.”

Future Farm is scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2020, when it will welcome its first researchers and students.

For more information on Future Farm and the Agri-tech Cornwall Project, please visit www.duchy.ac.uk and www.agritechcornwall.co.uk

Duchy degree students impress with their farm tenancy applications to the Duchy of Cornwall

Second year students on our FdSc (Hons) Agriculture course have recently completed their interviews with the Duchy of Cornwall’s Land Stewards. The Stewards scrutinised the viability of the farming systems proposed by the students, following the submission of tenancy applications for Carglonnon Farm on the Duchy of Cornwall’s Duloe estate, near Liskeard.

Students had the chance to experience the whole process of tendering for a farm tenancy, providing an excellent opportunity to put their theory into practice. They were given the full particulars of the farm and were able to visit the vacant farm and farmhouse with the Duchy of Cornwall Land Steward team, replicating a farm viewing day.

As part of the students’ Strategic Business Planning module, they had to provide a full application and business plan with detailed financial information, including profit and loss budgets, cashflow forecasts and balance sheet information in a precise, but concise format. Of particular importance this year was the Duchy of Cornwall’s interest in the ‘natural capitals’ across its estate i.e. access, biodiversity, historic environment, landscape, soil and water. The Duchy’s belief is that ‘the longer term farming future will be dependent upon environmental support payments related to the protection and enhancement of natural capitals’. Students needed to clearly demonstrate their understanding of these concepts and how they would apply them within their applications.

Students were also advised by Jamie Blake of the Rural Business School’s Farm Business Survey, Tim Burston, Agricultural Manager with Lloyds Bank and local farmer, Mark Thomas, a member of The Prince’s Council, a non-executive body which provides advice to His Royal Highness regarding the management of the Duchy of Cornwall estate.

Chris Matthews, Deputy Land Steward of Duchy of Cornwall’s Western District, commented, “As ever, there was a good standard of applications and we very much enjoyed reading and discussing the farming systems proposed for Carglonnon Farm. Clearly a tremendous amount of thought and work went into the submissions, which was reflected in their high standard and less variability this year. Students were very positive about the future of agriculture and demonstrated their long term commitment to the industry”.

Development and Critical feedback for the new Farm Crap App

Duchy Agri-Young Innovators Forum

The Duchy Discussion group most recently met to discuss the new ‘Farm Crap App Pro’. The evening allowed group members to have the opportunity to test and provide critical feedback for the new and unreleased app.

The Farm Crap App Pro is a collaborative project between Duchy College and Rothamsted Research North Wyke to develop an easy to use, accurate and reliable way to manage and record slurry spreading information and data on manure.

The finished app will include the ability to comply with Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations, as well as the new Farming for Water rules alongside the ability to truly integrate manure and slurry applications with bagged fertiliser to allow for environmental protection and economic benefits.

New features include:

  • the ability to map all the fields on your farm
  • individual crop nutrient recommendations from RB209, to allow you to complete field nutrient plans
  • the ability to take into account applications of compost, digestate and other products, including your own data from slurry or manure analysis
  • the ability to take into account the application method (dribble bar, trailing shoe, injection) and account for the increased nutrient availability that comes with these bits of kit
  • the ability to include applications of bagged fertiliser.

Group member, Ryan Renfree said,”This is one of the best meetings we have ever had. It was really hands on and exciting to have an input into the finalisation of the new app”. The app developers really encouraged the group to put the app through its paces and criticise any flaws or pick out things which had the potential to be improved. The evening finished with a group discussion about which areas of improvement were priority and general feedback from the group. The new app looked really promising and is sure to be an extremely useful tool for farmers.

Rural Leadership Course Hailed Huge Success

One of the world’s leading rural leadership courses is celebrating the conclusion of another successful year.

The Challenge of Rural Leadership course, now in its 23rd year, has been lauded by delegates and organisers.

Managed by the Rural Business School (RBS) at Duchy College, part of the Cornwall College Group, on behalf of the Worshipful Company of Farmers, delegates from across the globe came to Dartington Hall in Devon to undertake the intensive and rewarding programme.

They have returned to their businesses with new found confidence and skills to enable them to thrive in an ever-changing agricultural industry, according to Director of RBS, Richard Soffe.

“It was great to work with another outstanding group of international, high potential managers on the Challenge of Rural Leadership this year, as well as using Quicke’s Traditional Cheese as a local case study,” he explained.

The Worshipful Company of Farmers chair of education Karen Mercer, along with the Master Rosie Carne and other members of the company, joined the course for several sessions. Everyone was impressed with the beautiful Dartington Hall, and the enthusiasm of the delegates.

Two Nuffield scholars from Australia were in attendance, along with the Chief Environment Advisor for the NFU, and the Sainsbury’s Agricultural manager for Beef & Veal.

The first week of the course formed a case study which focused on a local business. The delegates visited early in the week and had an overview of every process which currently makes the business work.

During the second week the focus turns to the individual. There were sessions on psychometrics, the media, time-management and how to present yourself under scrutiny. There were also a large range of guest speakers, all of whom brought a unique perspective on their own paths to leadership.

Nuffield Australia delegate Han Shiong Siah, said “The course has changed who I am. I have learned a lot about myself and how I dealt with issues and challenges locally and internationally.”

Sainsbury’s Agricultural manager for Beef & Veal, Jocelyn Orr concurred and added it was an “invaluable experience I will never forget”.

Richard said he was “greatly looking forward to the 24th Worshipful Company of Farmers’ Challenge of Rural Leadership”.

“The application process has just reopened on the Rural Business School website.”

Agri-Tech Cornwall Young Innovators Forum

The Duchy Discussion Group recently welcomed Becky Willson to talk about Soils, Carbon and Climate. Increased focus on reducing emissions within agriculture has created a lot of negativity towards the sector, at a time where the industry is already volatile and has become susceptible to a lot of bad publicity.

Becky is Research Leader for The Soil Carbon Project at the Rural Business School, In 2017 Becky completed a Nuffield Scholarship and travelled around the world looking at agricultural emissions, soils and meeting global scientists within the industry. Becky has an unambiguous passion for areas related to soils, emissions and science and her knowledge around these topics is influential.

The group were provided with a very interesting talk that enabled everyone to have a clear understanding of the scientific and environmental factors that have been associated with agricultural emissions, and how we should be looking after our precious soils to enable better returns. Becky enabled the group to understand the various ways on how the industry can sustainably reduce theimpacts of farming on the environment, international and national targets to lower emissions and showed the group examples of work that Becky is involved in.

The group would like to thank Becky for taking the time to provide us with such an interesting and educational evening.

Duchy Discussion Group was set up in 2016 by an enthusiastic group of graduating students, who wished to join, or develop their own, progressive farming–related businesses. Their aim was to establish a dynamic forum to build on the motivation they developed during their time at Duchy College. Their activities have included visits to the Houses of Parliament, meetings with MPs George Eustice, the farming minister and Neil Parish, chair of the Efra Select Committee and various visits to leading farms. More recently the group has become the Young Innovators’ Forum, being joined by early–stage researchers from the partner organisations in the Agritech Cornwall project. New members are very welcome.
Please contact Rachel Abrahall at – rachel.abrahall@duchy.ac.uk or 07970985914.