Christopher Padfield - Post Formal Education - nurturing and growing talent?
I live on work on a 4th generation family farm on the Gloucestershire / Worcestershire border. It is a mixed farm consisting of a Beef fattening joint venture and growing combinable crops. We have been direct drilling all crops including maize for the last decade. The farm is entered into an HLS scheme which is central to our focus on creating wildlife habitat around the enterprise. We also run some stubble to stubble contracting.
After working abroad in Ghana, Guinea Bissau and France, I worked for a local agricultural college mainly assessing NVQ qualifications. I also achieved qualifications in Internal and External Verification and a PGCE (adult education). I then set up a small training company where we offer training services, mainly LANTRA and City and Guilds qualifications, aimed at the land-based skills sector.
When not working, I love riding motorbikes and drinking whisky. Not a great combination though a recent biking trip to Islay managed to get the best of both worlds.
I would like to thank all those supporting my Nuffield Scholarship, not least the Central Region Farmers Trust for their sponsorship, and my wife and parents for their support and backing.
The CSC is an event where current Nuffield Scholars from all over the world meet up to exchange ideas and knowledge. It is also a great opportunity to build up a network of friends and contacts for future travel. This year it was hosted by Nuffield Fran
The CSC is an event where current Nuffield Scholars from all over the world meet up to exchange ideas and knowledge. It is also a great opportunity to build up a network of friends and contacts for future travel. This year it was hosted by Nuffield France in Reims from the 28th February to the 7th March 2015. A range of speakers were lined up from 8.00am to 5.30pm broken by a very French two hour lunch break and strong coffee. In order to give a flavour of the topics that made an impact on me I have highlighted a few of the main points, though a review of #nuffield15 on twitter will give the overall view of the scholars from Australia, New Zealand, France, Canada, Brazil, UK, India and Mozambique.
Edwin Van Raalte from Rabobank gave an impressive talk on "Banking 4 food" pointing out the growing demand - every minute there are 158 new mouths to feed of which 154 are in emerging and developing economies. His bank was working with farmers in four areas: to increase food availability, improve access to food, stimulate balanced nutrition and enhance stability of food supply. He also suprised me by pointing out family farms are often the most successful - size is important but big is not always beautiful.
Later Arnaud Petit (Copa-Cogeca) gave a European view of the CAP pointing out more than 80% of the public in the EU as a whole support the CAP
Tuesday was set aside for studying Competitiveness, Innovation and Collaboration in agriculture by studying a sugar refinery at Bazancourt-Pomade set up by farmers working as a coop in the 1950s which has now expanded into a multimillion euro industry including investigating second generation bioethanol, and ingredients for the cosmetic industry. There were a couple of quotes: "When do you compete and when do you collaborate? Sometimes it may be better to compete collaboratively" and one I particularly liked - "When we are alone we go faster, but when we are together we go futher"
Wednesday saw Frederic Thomas give a presentation on taking care of the soil as the basis of agricultural production. Members of BASE UK will be familiar with his excellent talk and the need to concentrate on soil regeneration has been the subject of a number of recent Nuffield Scholars. He emphasises the need to replace roots for iron, looking at strip tilling and non-inversion tilling and the use of cover cropping and intercropping. Organic matter is essential for feeding worm and organic life. It was interesting to note that Nitrogen from covercrops/green manures can take 7 years to be released back into the soil and be available. Therefore, as I have learnt to my cost, there is a need for early N when direct drilling. He also suggested a 2-2 rotation. Two wheat, one harvested, one wholecropped, then two maize, one havested for grain and one wholecropped. Not sure it would be widely adopted in the UK. He also called for farmers to invest in people, perhaps by having more smaller tractors rather than fewer larger, heavier ones.
On Thursday Jean Pierre Beaudoin (a necktie man) pointed out the problems and solutions for farmers to communicate with the public. He claimed that often the public saw farmers as cliches, subsidised and often just absent from their everyday life. Farmers often saw the public as urban and spoiled (in terms of food options). In order to engage with the public farmers had to be authentic, telling a story of how they produce food. The consumer has a romantic view of the countryside, almost nostalgic but at the same time likes trendy food. Always tell your story first, second is too late.
Friday's theme was Leadership and started with the inspirational Michael Ehmann, CEO of Natais, a company near Toulouse responsible for 40% of European popcorn, some 45,000 tonnes a year (30,000 tonnes France, 15,000 tonnes South Africa). He pointed out leaders needed to be openminded, have a vision, predicatable with people, be able to create a network, take descisons and inspire people. He emphasised that the communication of the firm's vision is very important - he has four meetings a year to discuss this with his managers. He also conducts appraisals with targets for all his middle managers - a good investment but very time consuming.