Danielle Blanch is a 2016 Agricultural awardee who travelled to the UK in August 2016 to learn about different farming practices. Read her story below:
‘I applied for this award because it presented the opportunity to gain valuable insight into the agricultural practice in the UK vs Australia. I have lived on the land my whole life and the best advice I have received and the skills that have stuck with me have come from older farmers that have worked on family farms for generations and seen the changes in the agricultural industry and farming practices, therefore with this style of learning I couldn’t think of a better place than the UK to expand on my skills and experience.
Before commencing my trip, I had a lot of planning to do, as I don’t have any family in the UK and never travelled to the UK before I was going in blind. But thanks to my deputy principal at the agricultural college I attended when I received my award I was put in contact with passed awardees for agriculture. They people gave me a lot of help and guidance on the best approach. Before leaving I also considered companies around Scotland and where majority of different industries were located so that I had a rough layout of the areas I wanted to visit.
While living in Scotland I spent most of my time in the Scottish Borders. Here I lived with two families one bred sheep and produced crops and the other raised and fattened Holsten bulls as well as other beef breeds and produced crops. I was fortune enough to find such great, friendly and loving people to spend my time with. These families took the time to show me their business and teach me aspect of farming that I didn’t previously know as well as show me around Scotland.
While living in the Borders I also had the chance to do some work experience with Crop Services. A company that specialises in helping people with their crop production through their agronomy section as well as providing services such a spraying, fertilizing, soil testing and many more. Most of my time spent in Crop Services was with an agronomist doing field work.
We attended many properties assessing crop progress, weed and pest populations and assessing nutrient requirements and deficiencies based on soil tests taken previously. I also got the opportunity to attend AgriScot an agricultural exhibition. This exhibition was quite fascinating because it had very different angles of approach compared to Australia.
Many of the stalls at Agriscot were about reducing water retention, new research into crop varieties that can stand against water logging and new technologies to assist with keeping sheds clean during winter months. Where as in Australia maintaining water retention and extensive research into drought tolerant species is massive. Seeing this major contrast was quite interesting and intriguing.
One thing that really stood out to me in my time working in Scotland was the system they have in place regarding livestock movements. All cattle were issued with a hard copy passport at birth and this passport had to be taken with them every time they moved. The new owners had to fill in each animal’s passport with their new location and date of movement, this than had to be scanned onto and online system so that all movements records were recorded so that if a breakout of disease or infection occurred in the country the source of the problem could be tracked to an exact location.
Any livestock that was suffering and needed to be put down had to killed by a professional contractor and taken away and their passport had to go with them as livestock were not allowed to be buried in the ground as if presented a potential risk of further infection or disease spread if the animal died of these causes. Meanwhile In Australia our livestock have NILS (National livestock Identification System) tags this system is a lot easier as we have a much larger population of livestock and cover a much larger area. I also got to spend a bit of time in the Scottish Highlands which was an amazing experience, such beautiful country and want to go back one day.
I did get to spend a bit of time in England but would recommend future awardees to check out Scotland and especially the Highlands. I flew over the UK in early August and it was a great time to arrive as harvest was kicking off, 2017 wasn’t the best season they have had but it still was a great experience. My advice would be to consider what industries you are really interested in and research where they are most prominent. Once you get over there and have somewhere to start and get networking with local people a lot of doors will open and you will find yourself with a lot of people happy to help you out.’Update Your Details