Kate Adams  -  How is a passion for preserving soil instilled in modern farmers? From birth, fear, education or regulation?

Three Counties Agricultural Society

I grew up on a dairy farm in Herefordshire before travelling to the bright lights of London to study Geography at Kings College London. City living was a refreshing change after a rural upbringing however it made me realise that I wanted to work in the countryside. I returned to Herefordshire after graduating and worked for several years in a regulatory role with the Environment Agency. Although this provided me with a valuable education in agricultural legislation, I did not particularly enjoy having to play bad cop so decided to move across to deliver advisory projects. I now head up a team of farm advisors for The Wye & Usk Foundation, we are a local rivers trust delivering agricultural advice projects across the Wye catchment to improve water quality.

My fiancé John and I enjoy nothing more than to be outside enjoying the beautiful Herefordshire countryside. We spend many a weekend working our gun dogs at local shoots, walking, horse riding and socialising with our family and friends. My family have been keen supporters of the Three Counties Agricultural Society for several generations so it is an honour to have them as my Nuffield sponsor.

  • Project Details

In Herefordshire our rivers famously run red after rain, however our valuable top soil carries with it nutrients, contributing to a significant Phosphate issue which now breaches the limits set for the River Wye by the EU Habitat Directive. The current land management is now more noticeably having a knock on effect on tourism, fisheries, local housing growth, potable water supplies and ultimately the profitability of agriculture.

My Nuffield study, titled “How is a passion for preserving soil instilled in modern farmers? From birth, fear, education or regulation?” aims to identify the different approaches taken to achieve positive change in agricultural practices and attitudes in similar situations around the world. Is it reliant on an inherited attitude, more informative and practical education, more stringent regulations, or does change only occur when the damage to the soil means the business is no longer sustainable?

I hope to talk to those involved directly in regulating agriculture in other countries, visit other advisory projects, consider the varying education systems, and discuss these different approaches and their effectiveness with the local farmers.