My Nuffield Journey Begins

2016 marks the start of an exciting Nuffield journey, one which I have no doubt will lead to great adventures, challenges and opportunities, but above all, fresh thinking and new ideas.

Over the next 18 months, I will be exploring a topic which I believe is highly relevant to all involved within the agricultural sector – land occupation, and in particular, addressing the issues which surround short-term land occupation and what the implications of this have been for the wider industry.

Our most valuable asset – the land and soils in which we rely upon to supply food – is progressively coming under strain as businesses look for short-term gain in an era of increasing price volatility and uncertainty within the market.  The notable degradation of soils and organic matter, and the invasion of pests and disease coupled with weed infestation are just a few notable negative outcomes.  This is a huge problem and needs tackling, head on, if we are to successfully increase the productivity of our industry whilst making it commercially viable for all.

My study seeks to explore the perceived failings of short-term land occupation and explore possible solutions to address the issue.

As a rural surveyor providing advice to clients on how best to manage their asset base, I am conscious of the impact occupation decisions can have on the productivity of soils, and thus the overall impact on value of the asset. This study is aimed at stimulating debate and questioning our approach to date.  Throughout my travels I will seek to explore the benefits of longer term thinking through collaboration, the linking of expertise, knowledge and resource.

I intend to visit range of European countries including Ireland, Germany and The Netherlands together with Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Romania where a range of occupation and collaborative structures are promoted.  I will also spend time traveling throughout the UK. My travels will provide me with a unique opportunity to interact with various stakeholders; from larger landed estates to smaller farms and cooperative structures.  I plan to meet farmers, landowners and occupiers as well as agronomists, agents and other professionals, all with a view to understanding, from them, the possible benefits of longer term strategies.

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2016 UK Nuffield Scholars


Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Receiving my Nuffield tie from HRH Duke of Gloucester at the 2015 Belfast Nuffield Conference

In addition to my own scholarship, I am extremely fortunate to have been awarded a Global Focus Programme Tour. I will be spending a designated amount of time with a small group of International Nuffield Scholars visiting France, UK, USA, Mexico, Brazil and New Zealand. This will be a fantastic opportunity to learn about a broad range of agricultural systems operating across the globe which are exposed to very different political, social, economic and environmental conditions.

As a proud 2016 Nuffield Scholar, I look forward to updating you all as I progress through my Nuffield journey.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Roger Mercer says:

    Great job Robbie. Best wishes


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