The event, arranged with NFU Warwickshire County Organiser, Luke Ryder, saw 25 members visit the new sheep and beef units, and venture out into the fields to see the arable enterprise. The visit was led by Velcourt Farms Director Nick Shorter, Farm Manager Henry Dingle and Head of Agriculture Mike Fairclough with the support of other curriculum staff.
The visitors heard how the changes at the 250ha farm followed an extensive review which was commissioned in light of changes in the sector and to ensure the farm was reflective of current industry best practice. The farm’s focus changed from dairy to sheep, beef and arable, and to bring a stronger commercial approach to the running of the farm.
Henry explained, “The changes at the farm have seen a substantial expansion of the beef enterprise, a doubling of the college’s flock of sheep and a considerable increase in the hectarage and variety of cropping on the college farm.
“Our vision is to make the farm as diverse as possible, to give our students as much opportunity to interact and develop different skills in terms of livestock handling, machinery use and looking at the arable side as well.” Henry Dingle
Mike Fairclough, Head of Agriculture said, “We were delighted to welcome so many local NFU members to the farm to show them the changes that we’ve been making over the past year. It’s great to see them so engaged and interested, asking lots of questions and giving us really useful feedback. They are the future employers of our students, so I hope they will continue to support us as we further develop the farm to provide the best possible student experience.”
Duncan Hawley said: “As NFU Warwickshire chairman I have been extremely keen to build stronger links between the union locally and the college.
“Our farming members are naturally interested in the college and its farm which as we all know is responsible for training and equipping our agricultural students as they seek to build careers in this most rewarding of industries.
“We arranged the farm walk in response to member interest and all who attended were suitably impressed with what they saw and heard.Local Farmers see Substantial New Developments at #Warwickshire College Farm | Click To Tweet
“I would like to commend Velcourt and Nick Shorter for taking some bold decisions regarding the farm and also wish Henry Dingle, the farm manager, Mike Fairclough and his fellow lecturers all the best as they continue on this most important of journeys.
“All being well we will be back in the future to witness more positive changes and I would implore all local NFU members to offer their support to the college and farm in whatever way they can”.