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LAMMA 2021

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Young Farmer Focus: Harrison Anton - ‘Data will become ever-more important to UK farmers in their efforts to improve habitats’

Harrison Anton, 23, is a farm and environment assistant with CLM, a firm of farm business consultants and land agents working across southern England.

Background

 

I don’t come from a farming background, but became increasingly interested in agriculture alongside my passion for conservation and ecology.

 

Some conservationists opt to work abroad in what they would claim to be ‘ecologically richer’ countries, but I love the UK.

 

Now also seems a great time to start along the career path I have, given agriculture’s big push towards environmental stewardship and biodiversity.

 

Conservation

 

Agriculture and conservation used to be very separate disciplines, but there has been a shift to a far more integrated approach.

 

In future, environmental sustainability will be key to the commercial success of many farms and estates.

 

My friends went into careers such as accounting, marketing and finance, so when I first graduated, I used to occasionally wonder if I had made the right choice. But I love what I do and I am positive it is right for me.

 

Education

 

I studied an integrated masters degree in biology at Durham. My thesis focused on brown trout migration and hopefully I will be able to apply some of my learning about aquatic environments, river health and river connectivity in my job.


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Public goods

 

Water is a massive issue for farmers in so many ways. Much of the focus at one of the first conferences I attended in this role was on the landscape-scale changes needed to farming practices across water catchment areas to provide ‘public goods’.

 

Volunteering

 

I had a spell volunteering for the Zoological Society of London on the Tsaobis Baboon Project in Namibia. I was one of a multinational group of researchers – we were in the middle of nowhere surrounded by wild animals.

 

Our job was to collect data on everything from the body condition of baboons to the troop composition.

 

Data

 

Data will become ever-more important to UK farmers in their efforts to improve habitats, but I learned a big lesson in Africa: data is only useful if it is in a digestible, usable form.

 

I have always tried to get as much experience as possible and, before I joined CLM, was involved with carrying out protected species surveys for bats and great crested newts, as well as helping a farm transition from an intensive mixed system to rewilding.

 

Marathons

 

My mum is a really keen runner, so when I was old enough to do a marathon she signed me up for one.

 

I have now done London twice and the Hadrian’s Wall Ultramarathon relay. I had been determined to see Hadrian’s Wall when I first went to Durham, but for four years never did properly, so running part of it struck me as the perfect opportunity. It was tough, but the scenery was fantastic.

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