In this blog post, Future Farmer Sarah Pick explains her Nuffield Farming Scholarship journey to inspire others to follow in her footsteps.
In 2019 I was lucky enough to undertake a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, and what a life-changing experience it was.
I grew up on a small suckler beef farm near Tadcaster, North Yorkshire and never did I think I would get the opportunity to visit other farmers across the world to understand how we could improve our suckler herd at home.
This is what makes a Nuffield Scholarship so special. It takes people who are involved in the farming industry and provides you with a bursary to undertake an agricultural related project to travel and learn from other farmers.
It also develops your leadership skills, providing you with the confidence to take your ideas forward.
To think that I now have a network of farmers and industry experts from Europe to New Zealand is incredible.
So where did my Nuffield journey start?
I was inspired to apply after reading previous Nuffield reports on suckler production which were filled with lots of practical tips and new thinking.
However, none of them discussed the topic I really wanted to know, “is calving heifers at two years of age worth the additional management it creates?”
I work for the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and my role involves speaking to farmers about how they can increase their profitability.
One of the discussions we regularly had was around heifer management and I felt I did not have the necessary evidence to support calving heifers at two years of age. Therefore, I applied to do a scholarship to learn just that.
Overcoming imposter syndrome
At first, I thought there was some mistake. I certainly didn’t think I was Nuffield Farming Scholarship material, but you soon learn that Nuffield can see things in you that you can’t see in yourself.
With the bursary they provided I was able to travel to the USA, Canada and Australia where heifers have been calved at two-years-old since the 1970s.
I was also able to explore countries closer to home.
What I found wasn’t necessarily ground-breaking but it taught me that calving at two years is financially worthwhile, but its success is underpinned by nutrition, genetics and effective selection (read Sarah’s full Nuffield report here or watch a short video about her project below).
As part of my project, I also applied to do a Global Focus Program (GFP) which is an additional opportunity to travel with other international Nuffield Scholars.
During this time, I spent 6 weeks, travelling through US, Mexico, Brazil, The Netherlands and New Zealand visiting various agricultural related businesses.
This was probably one of the highlights of my scholarship because it opened my eyes to the challenges other farming sectors face whilst also giving me a different perspective of UK agriculture.
Find out more at the Great Yorkshire Show
Undertaking a Nuffield Farming Scholarship has been one of the most rewarding things I have done. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
I am now a Board member of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire and I will be joining other Future Farmers at a Nuffield reception on Wednesday 14th July 2021 at the 162nd Great Yorkshire Show to share more about this life-changing experience. Click here for more details and to register your attendance.