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Young Farmer Focus: Emily Davis - 'It is important to realise how far you have come'

Emily Davis, 23, is currently working on a sheep farm in New Zealand after graduating in agriculture from the University of Nottingham last year.

Progression: Standing at the top of the paddock the other day, watching the ewes with their lambs as the sun was setting behind the backdrop of the New Zealand hills, I took a moment to stop and reflect how far I have come in the past two years.

 

On October 11, 2017, I was on the other side of the world in Brussels, in the middle of the Youth Ag Summit which proved to be a pivotal point in my farming journey.

 

Being surrounded by 100 like-minded young people from around the world gave me an appreciation for the immense challenge of future global food security, in which young farmers will play a significant part, along with researchers, scientists, policymakers and economists to name a few.

 

Education: One of my goals I took from the summit was to never stop learning. True to this, I completed my final year of my agricultural degree at the University of Nottingham, worked the harvest to save for a plane ticket, and set off in October last year for a six-month stint in New Zealand.


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It was supposed to be only six months, but to cut a long story short, nearly a year later I am still here with no plans of leaving any time soon.

 

The goal is to learn about more extensive farming systems.

 

Beef and sheep: I started off on a 350-cow Waikato dairy farm, before heading for the hills of Otago to work on a 6,000-hectare sheep and beef farm.

 

I love the variety – one day you can be weighing and drenching lambs, the next day cultivating some steep hill country (which has really forced me to face my fear of driving machinery on slopes), or weaning and marking mobs of calves.

 

With 11,000 sheep and 1,000 breeding cows, there is always plenty to keep me busy.

 

Everything is out-wintered, the ewes on kale and swede breaks, and the calves on fodder beet, so it has given me a good insight into break feeding winter crops and feed budgets, which has always fascinated me.

 

A large part of the station is uncultivated tussock hill country, which is extensive grazing at its most extreme.

 

Some aspects of hill farming takes some getting used to; for example the ewes are left to it in their paddocks at lambing time, whereas I am used to having them all where you can keep an eye on any problems.

 

The great thing about experiencing different systems is that I can take away ideas and philosophies from each, and one day combine them in my own farming business.

 

Sometimes it feels like a very steep learning curve, but it is important to take moments like this at the end of a busy day to stop beating yourself up about what you still do not know, and instead realise just how far you have come.

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