Robbie Moore  -  Addressing the perceived failings of short-term land occupation.

NFU Mutual Charitable Trust

Having grown up on the family’s arable farm near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, I have actively been involved within the family business since a young age. We farm just over 2,000 acres of combinable crops and provide a potato cold storage facility.  

In 2004, the family business undertook a major diversification project and started recycling farm plastic waste.  28,000 sq ft of shed space was converted into a recycling plant and our new business venture, Agri-cycle was launched.  The business now consists of a national network of franchises collecting farm plastic waste and spent shot gun cartridges which are recycled into usable products, such as grain flooring and garden furniture.

After completing secondary education, I attended Newcastle University to study Architecture. Whilst I decided not to progress with a vocation in this subject, the course enabled me to thrive from the challenge of problem solving.

In early 2009, I joined George F White LLP, a rural surveying and farm business consultancy firm based within the North East.   After completing a post graduate diploma in rural surveying and gaining a distinction, I was able to progress and become a fully qualified Chartered Surveyor. I have also been awarded Fellowship of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers. I currently provide professional advice principally covering landlord and tenant matters, farm business consultancy, compensation, valuations and rural asset portfolio management.   I really enjoy assisting clients on how best they can manage, protect, advance or enhance their asset base.

I am ready for my next challenge and with enthusiasm, energy and commitment, I look forward to developing my thinking and exploring the bigger picture through this Nuffield Scholarship.  Seeing the negative outcomes of short-term occupation, such as resistant black grass and ineffective land drainage systems, I look forward to getting started and addressing the issue in greater depth.

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust for their extremely kind and generous support towards my Nuffield Scholarship and for providing me with this fantastic opportunity.

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Our most valuable asset - the land and soils in which we rely upon to supply food - is progressively coming under strain as businesses look for short-term gain in an era of increasing price volatility and uncertainty within the market.  The notable degradation of soils and organic matter, and the invasion of pests and disease coupled with weed infestation are just a few notable negative outcomes.  This is a huge problem and needs tackling, head on, if we are to successfully increase the productivity of our industry whilst making it commercially viable for all. My study will question whether short-term land occupation has led to inefficiency within our food production system, and explore possible solutions to address the issue.  

As a rural surveyor providing advice to clients on how best to manage their asset base, I am conscious of the impact occupation decisions can have on the productivity of soils, and thus the overall impact on value of the asset. This topic is aimed at stimulating debate and questioning our approach to date.  I believe my report will be of great interest to the wider farming community and will seek to explore the benefits of longer term thinking through collaboration, the linking of expertise, knowledge and resource.

Throughout my study, I intend to visit a range of European countries including Ireland, Germany and The Netherlands together with Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Romania where a range of occupation and collaborative structures are promoted.  I will also spend time traveling throughout the UK. My travels will provide me with a unique opportunity to interact with various stakeholders; from larger landed estates to smaller farms and cooperative structures.  I plan to meet farmers, landowners and occupiers as well as agronomists, agents and other professionals, all with a view to understanding, from them, the possible benefits of longer term strategies.

In addition to my own scholarship, I am extremely fortunate to have been awarded a Global Focus Programme Tour. I will be spending a designated amount of time with a small group of International Nuffield Scholars visiting France, UK, USA, Mexico, Brazil and New Zealand. This will be a fantastic opportunity to learn about a broad range of agricultural systems operating across the globe which are exposed to very different political, social, economic and environmental conditions.

I thrive from meeting and interacting with enthusiastic and knowledgeable people that are passionate about farming and the rural environment.  To have the privilege of doing this within the global classroom is a very exciting prospect. I look forward to sharing my experiences and the knowledge gained with the wider farming community as I progress through my scholarship and upon my return.