James Standen  -  Achieving excellence in university and college farms. Implementing best practice from home and abroad

John Oldacre Foundation

I always wanted to be a farmer, my memories of accompanying my grandfather around the farm he managed are engrained in my mind.  Despite his best efforts to persuade me to take up a different career I attended Wye College to study Agriculture which I followed up with an MSc in Agricultural Economics.

After leaving Wye I joined ADAS as a Farm Business Consultant, where I developed a client base of farms taking on the Farm Manager role.  After a move to another company my largest client asked me to go full time so I took over the management of The Montreal Estate in Kent.  I took the Estate through two restructures, it's sale, and was part of the start of a major reinvestment programme.  After this I moved up to North Yorkshire where my wife and I have taken on the tenancy of a 300 acre farm. The farm is arable and grassland with a holiday cottage, fishing lakes and a large environmental stewardship scheme. It is home for us and our two young children.  Since taking on the tenancy we have become LEAF Marque certified and introduced a mixed low input arable/sheep system fitting around our environmental objectives. My wife and I run the farming business in partnership while I am also Director of Farming at Newcastle University.

Since joining Newcastle University I have started to restructure the farms to improve the commercial performance. I am also improving how the University uses its farms both in terms of education and research.  I enjoy inspiring and motivating others to choose farming as a career and to seek to play a role in the future of the industry so I'm pleased to be involved with Newcastle University and delighted to take up the opportunity offered by my Nuffield scholarship.  

I am without doubt only able to undertake this Nuffield Scholarship with the unwavering support and encouragement of my wife, Frances.  I would like to thank the John Oldacre Foundation and Nuffield Farming for sponsoring my Nuffield Scholarship, and Newcastle University for their support, I look forward to all it brings. 

Before I joined Newcastle University as Farms Director I had been involved with College Farms either as a Governor or consultant.  I am now in a position responsible for the creation of a commercially viable business while providing a first class research facility and one that challenges, involves and enthuses students.   

I am fascinated by the challenge of linking commercial farming operations with research and education.  University and College farms as well as dealing with the commercial challenges that other farming businesses face have to provide a resource that other farms do not.  All the while operating within an organisation that is not really set up for managing a farming business.

I plan to travel to countries where they have consistently higher productivity gains than the UK and not only look at how their University Farms and research facilities are set up and function but how they contribute to those gains in terms of research and student development.   I also hope to explore the role of Universities and research farms in the provision of extension services and applied research and how that might benefit farming businesses back in the UK.  

I am thrilled at receiving a Nuffield Scholarship at a very timely point in the development of Newcastle University Farms and hope to identify best practice that I can put into effect immediately and practices that I can take forward as part of the farms development to implement in the future.