Nuffield Scholar - 2017 - DAVID HICHINS

David Hichens

Growing up on the family dairy farm on the North coast of West Cornwall between Lands’ End and St Ives was where I caught the farming bug at a young age. During holiday periods throughout my education, I also worked on many farms in different counties, including a year in Oxfordshire as part of my agriculture degree at Harper Adams. In 2010 I joined Velcourt as a dairy farm manager and have spent the past 6 years running a high-input dairy at the University of Bristol Vet School in North Somerset.

Whilst living in Somerset, I have enjoyed having an active role in the rural and farming community and have been heavily involved with Somerset YFC, holding various posts and getting involved the active social life that YFC provides. I like to get back to Cornwall whenever I can to have an input into the autumn block grazing herd that is currently still run by my father and uncle as well as to enjoy some quiet time by the sea or some off road motorcycling on the moors.

I would like to thank Alan and Anne Beckett for sponsoring my scholarship and for the support they have already shown me.

The journey to building a fulfilling life and career in farming

Study Overview

The aim of this study was to find out what sets the best farmers and farming businesses apart from the rest; and how young people when planning out their own farming journey towards success, can learn from those successful farmers and farming businesses. This comes at a pivotal point in my own career and life, so much of this report is related back to my own story which I feel is quite relevant to a lot of people currently setting out in the UK dairy industry without proper direction or intent. When there seems to be such a huge divide in aspiration, attitude, achievement and culture between those people and businesses that are thriving and those that aren’t, we need to make sure we are learning from the right ones.

Firstly, definitions of success are discussed. Having travelled for nearly 6 months including completing the India Global Focus Programme it was discovered that only you can be the judge of your own success in completing what you set out to do. To that end, planning out what you want to achieve before you even start was found to be one of the most integral parts of the process. It is felt that many young people need help to focus on this, as they lack guidance and are faced with sometimes too many options.

The best businesses run by the best people are found to be calmer and more productive and efficient environments due to the leadership shown by those successful people who have a strategic outlook. This is helped greatly by those who make a conscious effort to grasp and manage time, one of the most finite resources within our disposal. Successfully grasping and managing time allows more focus to be put on people within those businesses; and getting both of these right creates a positive cycle. This cycle drives productivity and efficiency, creating a more positive and enjoyable safe working environment.

It has been concluded that people drive success by having the right attitude, outlook and training and that these need to be improved through more active personal development. Young people need to be shown more leadership and guidance through structured mentoring from already established people in our industry. The first step towards knowing what success means to you is knowing yourself; practices like personality testing and self-reflection are a good starting point for this. These should then be discussed with a trusted mentor to help begin formulating a personal plan that maps out your journey to success

Scholar Video