RAU Studentshave joined forces with the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire to put home grown vegetables on the tables of female prisoners in the county.
Astrotracks scholarship for entrepreneurial student
James Wright, Graduate Diploma in Agriculture student at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), has been awarded the Astrotracks Get into Farming Award to help fund him through his studies.
James was at university studying business, when he realised that he wanted to be a farmer. He said:
“Farming was never part of the plan. I was meant to go to university get a job in a steady business. However, I spent a month on a dairy farm during my gap year, and learnt how attention to detail, hard work, and a bit of luck, could see you build a successful farm business."
In 2013, during his final year at university, James finally decided that he wanted to become a farm. “The first barrier was land, so I wrote to all the local farmers and found one who agreed to rent me a few acres. I then sourced some low cost pig keeping equipment and started with two in-pig sows. The business grew and at its height I had 30 sows with 260 fatteners, with the pork primarily going to local butchers, a farm shop, and pubs."
Three years later and James had moved on to sheep. “I’ll be lambing 400 New Zealand Romney ewes on short-term lets. With my production capacity limited by the amount of land I can rent every ewe has to be pulling their weigh. I operate a strict culling regime, ewes who underperform because they are habitually lame or don’t do well off forage alone are culled.”
James has now decided to study at the RAU to further his knowledge of farming. “Whilst I have learnt a lot over the last three years, I want to be able to apply this in an academic context and push myself to learn more of the science involved in farming.
“With the funding from the scholarship, the money I had saved for the course will instead be spent on further research, a course at the Rural Innovation Centre, and the Oxford Farming Conference in 2018. I would also like to go on a tour of UK sheep and goat dairy farms, as this is an area I would like to explore as I continue the journey into farming, and my quest to one day have my own farm.”
Founder of Astrotracks, Michael McCreath, studied BSc Hons Rural Estate Management at the Royal Agricultural College (as was) in 1986-89. By sponsoring the Astrotracks Get into Farming Award, he aims to bring new blood into the industry.
Astrotracks supply farmers with sand-fillled astro to improve their cow tracks. It is used by dairy farmers as a cost effective and easy to install way to reduce lameness, extend the grazing season, and increase cow flow.
This is the second year that Astrotracks have offered their generous Get into Farming Award to an RAU student. We look forward to continuing to work with Astrotracks in the future.