With the perfect storm of climate change and world food shortages on the horizon there has never been a greater need for farming to recruit a new generation of innovative, knowledgeable, capable farmers.
The average age of farmers in Britain is 58 and the Royal Agricultural Society of England has estimated that the agriculture industry will require an additional 60,000 new entrants over the next decade – 1,000 of those entrants will be required to enter salaried management roles.
Happily, there is a growing group of young people who are in no doubt that farming is the high tech, rewarding, analytical, exciting, well paid career for them. The current cohort of 144 students studying agriculture and land based engineering at Bicton College are immersed in an industry that is increasingly technical, complex and challenging.
Head of Sustainable Land Use at Bicton College, Kevin Frediani, explains: “One of the main challenges facing all farmers is to produce more food from less land. At the moment no one has the answers, we are learning with the students, sharing our knowledge, trying new ideas and methods and taking on board the thoughts of other people in the industry. The students are learning by doing – enabling them to inform the future of farming.”
He concludes: “Agriculture is an exciting and diverse career for any young person. The students leaving Bicton College at the end of the agriculture courses are the future of farming and there has never been a more important time to manage land for food production.”
Trevor Woodley and Anthony Arnold are both studying Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture at Bicton College. The course covers practical skills in animal husbandry, the use and maintenance of agricultural machinery, animal and crop production science and farm business management.
Trevor Woodley, 19, Totnes, Devon
I grew up on my parents’ dairy, beef and sheep farm and always wanted to be a farmer. The College course has broadened my horizons in terms of learning about new systems and different ways of farming. It includes practical work with tractors and farm machinery, plenty of variety and new opportunities with the rare breed animals. Farming is an exciting industry to be in!
Anthony Arnold, 24, London
Studying at Bicton College has taught me different, better and more cost-effective practices rather than just repeating methods that have gone before. I would like
to be a herdsman and ideally have a farm of my own one day, but the future is exciting, there is a lot of work available for qualified, reliable and enthusiastic people.
Bicton College is a leading land-based college based in East Devon near Budleigh Salterton. The college offers both part time and full time courses in a wide range of land-based subjects. Visit www.bicton.ac.uk for a full list of the courses available.