Agricultural Bursary News March 2023

Charlie Rogers, RAU Student Credit: John Cottle / NFU 17/03/2023

Academic Intake         

2017 – Alex Neason – Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester

2018 – Rory Lomas – Harper Adams University

2018 – Harry Goring – Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester

2019 – Jake Hodgson – Newcastle University

2020 – Kirk Stamford – Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester

2021 – William Oliver – Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester

2021 – Maddie Phillips – Newcastle University

2022 – Charles Rogers – Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester

Alex Neason

“Roughly three weeks ago Velcourt approached me with a farm management opportunity to re-locate to Nottinghamshire. The business is c.1000ha of combinable and forage crops across some owned land, some CF and some on cropping licences. There is an AD plant situated on part of the owned land and is ran by an external renewable energy firm. I have been taken on to manage the smooth running of the business day to day, to manage cost control, crop agronomy and the feed stock for the AD plant. There is also a 15mt central store on site which I am responsible for, and the shed space is sold to a Frontier subsidiary company called Wells Agriculture. This is a big step for me, I am now at the end of my first week and very excited for the future. It is certainly challenging, particularly as we have some staffing issues at the moment!”

Harry Goring

“I am still working as an assistant farm manager for velcourt, based in Yorkshire. There are talks around some progression for me coming up in the next few months and I will keep you posted on my progress going forward. 

I have completed BASIS – just currently awaiting my results. I have FACTs pencilled in for completion at the next available course date.”

Rory Lomas.

“In the previous update I informed you that I was currently completing a harvest in Australia. I finished my job late January and bought a car. I’m currently driving from Adelaide in the south, along the East coast, to Darwin in the North. 

I’m looking and getting another job for two months or so before I leave Australia at the end of August. I currently plan to stay in the UK until Christmas before embarking to Africa to work and explore the farming out there. Kenya will be first on the list.” 

Jake Hodgson

“At the moment I’m wrapping up the penultimate module on the MSc course with one more taught module to follow before the dissertation project commences in May. 

The research I will undertake encompasses a comparative evaluation and assessment of vertical farming substrates and their effect on crop performance based upon their inherent physical properties. 

The aim of this research is to evaluate the performance of organic and inorganic hydroponic substrates that can be used within commercial vertical farming systems and in doing so determine each substrates impact on crop performance. I am currently averaging a 1st across the MSc and hopeful to continue that through to the end of the course in August. 

Going forward from there I hope to have a position secured within the next month at one of the two companies I have established connections with regarding career opportunities.”

Kirk Stamford

“I am in the last few months of University. I have spent the last several months completing my dissertation due next month. It is a comparison between conventional and organic farm practices, whether farmed estates could adopt practically and viably an organic practice. Vaguely, the overall conclusion is that they cannot mainly as the market size is too small to sustain many organic producers among many other things. 

I will become a rural advisor for Savills starting this summer. I was interested in DEFRA, but I felt the work would be more meaningful and progressive and I could continue to personally develop at Savills.”

Will Oliver

“I began 2022 working on a local farm doing general farm work and helping on the haulage and logistics side of the business. In spring I then moved onto spring drilling and cultivations before heading back to university where my degree studying agriculture with farm management is going well. When summer came, I moved abroad to work on superyachts again to earn some good cash to fund my university. Whilst there I was also wrote a report for the company ‘le chamaue’ on how agriculture influences food security. After writing this, I was concerned and contacted my MP where we discussed concerns, we both had with the new ELMS scheme. He raised those concerns for me in parliament. 

Unfortunately, I had to rush home for a family emergency, I then began to help local farmers finish their harvest seasons with grain carting and cultivations. 

Since then, I have had many more meetings with my MP with regards to both agriculture and Mens mental health and have even been invited to Westminster twice to discuss these matters with other MPs.

In September I returned to university and my degree is going very well. Finally, I was also fortunate enough to head to Africa and stay with friends on their farms over Christmas and January in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and south Africa. Seeing farming systems here was a huge eye opener and an extremely interesting experience.

I currently have a spring drilling and cultivations job lined up for our few weeks of in April.”

Maddie Phillips.  

“I am still loving my course and from recent results, I am currently working at a 2:1, which I am very happy with. Specifically, I was pleased with the Sustainable Solutions module, in which I got a 1st.  I am particularly enjoying the modules Principles of Agronomy and Crop Improvement and 

Sustainable Animal Production Systems. This has included a range of field trips to gather useful information for our upcoming assessments. 

I am currently on a two week lambing placement near Alnmouth where I am assisting with births, feeding, administering injections and general farm work; which I am thoroughly enjoying and learning a lot.

Just before the Easter break, we had the first part of our Dissertation module assessment due in, which was a Data Analysis report. Around May time the second part is due in entitled ‘Project Proposal’, where I will choose my dissertation for next year. I have already had a brief think about what I would like to do it on and am leaning towards the impact of grazing on soil improvement or biodiversity/ sustainability on farms. 

In the summer, I am planning on securing a harvest job for a couple of months and would also be very interested in working on a vegetable farm, as well as abroad, to gain more experience in different areas of agriculture. During this time I am also planning on collecting data for my chosen Dissertation project. 

Thank you again for all your support.”

Charlie Rogers

Agriculture is a seemingly difficult industry to start a career in if you are not from a farming background. However, in recent years, access to the industry for students is becoming far more accessible and support from corporations such as the John Innes Foundation drives many candidates to pursue high end positions in agriculture. 

The bursary amplifies a positive attitude towards university encouraging you to make the most out of every opportunity presented to you, big or small. The financial freedom gained by the bursary allows you to focus all your efforts on the best steps to take post-graduation rather than being concerned about paying back debt. Additionally, this bursary comes with a handful of significant contacts and possible future employers, which is incredibly useful for individuals not from a farming background. 

Overall, this bursary has changed my perspective on what is achievable at and after university for individuals willing to put in the effort, opening doors and creating pathways for success.”