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Young Farmer Focus: Joe Collins - 'I plan to work and study in South America this year'

Joe Collins, 24, is a soil and water researcher at Innovation for Agriculture, based at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.

 

He studied crop management at Harper Adams University before an MSc in sustainable crop management at Warwick University.

Background: I began farming when I left school, working on an arable and livestock farm in Shropshire while I was also running my own flock of hill ewes on rented ground.

 

During this time, I studied part-time at agricultural college and then went on to study a part-time degree in agriculture at Reaseheath College.

 

The next step for me was working in Western Australia on a large sheep and arable farm, followed by two jobs on arable farms in the east of England.

 

During my time on farms I developed an interest in farm management and methods of improving agricultural productivity and sustainability.

 

This led me to study for a top-up BSc at Harper Adams in crop management and then to a MSc in sustainable crop management at Warwick University.


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Day-to-day: I now work as a soil and water researcher at Innovation for Agriculture (IFA).

 

We work with farmers to develop the knowledge and technologies that will make modern farming more sustainable, resilient, and productive.

 

Our aim is to take the results of agricultural research and help put it into practice on farms in the UK.

 

Much of my work is focused around knowledge transfer and farmer engagement to improve soil and water management in agriculture.

 

I began to work for IFA on a parttime basis during my MSc and was then lucky enough to be offered a scholarship with the organisation.

 

The Cator-Gardner Scholarship involves a three-month work experience placement working abroad for a world-leading agricultural business annually for three years.

Overseas: I was incredibly proud to be asked to receive the award and would like to thank IFA for giving me such an amazing opportunity as it can be tough for young people beginning their career in the agricultural industry.

 

I am currently planning on working in South America this summer to study agroforestry and polyculture crop production, which are both subjects I am fascinated by.

 

Last year I was working on a joint European Commission and Chinese Government research and innovation project called AgroCycle.

 

The project takes a holistic approach to understanding how to use the waste streams from the agrifood industry with the aim to produce a blueprint for achieving sustainable agri-food waste valorisation.

 

The project culminated in a conference in Beijing, China, on agriwaste management. This was an opportunity for me to experience a new culture and meet people working in similar roles across the world, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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