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Getting Started: The route I chose to get started in farming

Continuing with our top tips on how to enter the farming industry, we spoke to Chris Acaster - a new entrant who had no farm backing. Part two looks at Chris’ education and the route he chose to get started in farming.
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Chris Acaster
Chris Acaster
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"Life is about doing what you want; there is no right or wrong way to go about it" - Wise words from @AAFarmServices. Read part 2 here.

Read part 2 of Chris Acaster's story here - all about his university course and his views on education and apprenticeships. #GetIn2Ag

In part one, we spoke to Chris Acaster about his background and why he decided to enter into the farming industry.


After hearing negative views on the industry, Chris decided to ignore the naysayers and jumped feet first into a career in agriculture.



Now aged 25, Chris works with his brother, Mark, at A&A (Acaster and Acaster) Farm Services, focusing on cross compliance and contracting.


In part two, Chris speaks to us about his choice of university and his views on the best way to enter into the industry.

Q: Which course did you study at university?

A: Getting towards the end of doing A levels I travelled to three different universities to see which was the one for me. Eventually I decided on Harper Adams University, Shropshire.


Origionally I intended to study agricultural mechanisation. However the realisation dawned on me that it was not going to be a practical course learning to repair machinery.


Having a degree based around tractors and implements (not engineering) I saw leading down a path of being a qualified tractor driver which was not the route I wanted to take.


So I switched to crop management in an effort to secure more lucrative employment but still be working in fields. This was an interesting subject and has been of some use over the past years.



Q: How did you find your placement year?

A: The placement year demonstrated a lot about business and the path of being a student, to being a graduate, and the career development which follows.



Placements start with a list of vacancies and it became apparent to me there wasn't enough crop based roles for the number of candidates applying for them.


I ended up securing my own placement with a well known pesticide manufacturer.


I found you can make your own way if you have the drive and determination to make it work.


To read about Kayleigh Jones and how she followed her dream and began farming at 28, click here...


Q: How do you look over your time in education?

Q: How do you look over your time at university?

A: I look back over my time in education and one thing strikes me about it.


Top grades are brilliant if you can get them, but that doesn't automatically mean you will get your dream job or you will be happy doing it either.


My day to day job now relies heavily on the topics you discuss and the things you learnt doing the course, not the piece of paper that results from it.


While it is a good feeling to have the degree, you do not necessarily need it.


I dare say it helps if any of your business interests are consultancy based from a client confidence perspective, but the main thing is the overall awareness and familiarity of things you come across in the field, in the office, and in the financial accounts which are the cornerstone of trading.


University is a good route to take and you learn a lot of important values you would miss working entirely in the field.


By focusing on deadlines, and learning to produce documents properly, it certainly helps you in becoming professional towards how you conduct your business.


But remember, studying business modules doesn't automatically make you profitable. It takes a lot of time and learning how to approach new customers, retain long standing ones and evaluating new ventures which will determine success.

Q: What are your thoughts on apprenticeships?

A: Apprenticeships are an interesting subject.


Certainly they have their place in society and there is no doubt if it is a practical job the only way is to learn by copying someone who can really do a good job of it.


But as always there is a catch, which I now see from being an apprentice on a farm to being the employer and it is a tricky one to overcome.


Could an apprenticeship be the route for you? Read more here...


Agriculture is a vast subject, covering a wide range of subjects within it (finance, law, chemistry, physics, ethics, and many more) than any other.


Therefore it takes a long time to become skilled and competent and the only way to do it is to become an apprentice at some point, even if you go to college.


Often, apprentices are given easy, repetitive jobs, gaining little training in the process.


Eventually another employer offers more training or a little more money and the apprentice is likely to jump ship straight away.


If the initial employer gives the apprentice the chance and puts in the time in the first place, the apprentice can grow and learn with the same employer.


The upside for the candidate is they move around and gain more experience and knowledge.


I believe it is a good idea to be an apprentice. People should ignore the social stigma of not going to university.


Life is about doing what you want to do; there is not a right or wrong way to go about it.


Getting Started

Chris got in touch with us here at Getting Started via Twitter: If you have something to say, say it with Getting Started!


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