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Young Farmer Focus: Alex Neason, 18 - 'It is important to have a range of knowledge to be successful'

Alex Neason, 18, is in his first year studying agriculture with applied farm management at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU). He also works at Home Farm, in Sampford Arundel, and aims to take up a role in farm management after his degree.

Focus: The persistent rainfall over the last few months has made it extremely tough to get the slurry and fertilizer out for many farmers.

 

Among taking the odd load of slurry out with the tanker in Sampford, I have been running a chainsaw business. Hiring myself out with my chainsaw was an effective way to make money while agriculture was relatively quiet.

 

Getting the work/study balance right, though, can be a challenge.

 

I enjoy working, but less so when it comes to revision and coursework. I know it is important to complete my studies to a high level, but I am also aware of the knowledge I gain through practical work.

 

I am travelling up to Cambridgeshire in July for an approximately 809-hectare (2,000 acre) harvest, driving a Claas Lexion 670 harvesting a mix of crops including spring and winter barley, winter wheat, peas, beans and linseed.

 

I gain satisfaction from being given more responsibility. Seeing personal progression in a job is what makes working in the industry enjoyable and I feel this is the case for many other young entrants.

 

Achievements: Gaining a full university scholarship from the John Innes Foundation, a bursary for students from non-farming families, is one of my biggest achievements.

 

Farm management is where I am heading, so to have farm business management and advisory services company Velcourt mentoring me – and have the financial burden of university fees lifted – is a great relief.

 

I am very fortunate to have won the bursary, but it is important to encourage those who do not have a farming background into the industry to ensure we have the fresh ideas and views we need to thrive.

 

Background: Not having a family farm makes it tough to get directly into farming as a producer.

 

It is prohibitively expensive to purchase land, buildings, machinery and livestock. For me to see a lucrative future in farming with a farm of my own, I will have to look into diversifying within agriculture, or indeed away from agriculture.

 

With additional overheads like rent and loan repayments, it is sadly not a viable option immediately.

 

Future: I would not say my future in agriculture is set in stone, but the next few years are well mapped out.

 

Winning the bursary has meant my future in farm management is somewhat more certain, which I find very exciting.

 

I want to work in other countries, managing farms and reviewing different farming systems. To run a successful agricultural business it is important to have a vast range of experiences and knowledge to be able to farm efficiently.


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