Dan Burdett - Increasing productivity through increasing diversity on UK dairy farms
I am a third generation dairy farmer from West Sussex, milking 300 organic cows on a simple autumn calving system. Although I grew up on a dairy farm and loved driving tractors, my life was destined to be lived in the urban jungle. At 18 I escaped the countryside and studied Business Studies at the University of Derby. For about 11 years I thought nothing of farming, instead focusing on a career in sales and marketing. After university I took 6 months out to complete a trip to Central America to work, learn and teach. This was followed by a graduate training scheme at London Electricity (now EDF Energy), which took me into the far reaches of the company, giving me a great overview of the corporate world.
I left there after 3 years and took my second gap year, this time with Emma, and we were fortunate enough to travel through Asia, New Zealand and South America for 11 months in 2004. It was when I returned from this trip that I started to question my direction of travel in life. I mulled this over for nearly 3 years whilst working for the travel company Trailfinders before realising that my desire to run my own business could best be fulfilled back on the family farm. Aged 30, Emma and I came to the farm and we have never looked back. After learning the ropes for 4 years, whilst also completing a postgraduate diploma in organic farming at SAC, I set up my own contract farming company to run the dairy herd. 5 years on and I own 240 cows and 200 youngstock on a thriving farm with a fantastic team of staff alongside me.
I’m also lucky enough to have completed the Worshipful Company of Farmers Advanced Management Course in 2014, where I was taken to pieces and put back together again by a great cohort of other farmers and John Alliston.
Emma and I now have 3 amazing and very active children, Lizzie (10), Molly (7) and Tom (5). I am incredibly grateful to Emma for supporting me throughout my journey in farming and for backing me to apply for a Nuffield Scholarship.
I am grateful to McDonalds Restaurants for the opportunity to become a Nuffield scholar, something I’ve wanted to do for many years. I hope that by becoming a scholar, I’m able to enhance our triple bottom line (profit, environment, social) and to influence change within the industry.