Level of study in Agriculture

Hi everyone, been quite a while since i last posted anything on here so here goes......
I am looking for a bit of insight into the different levels of agricultural courses from those who have attended/completed them through college or university. What would you recommend for a mature student (30 - 40yrs old). NVQ, HNC, HND, FdSc, BSc, part-time/full time etc etc What did you find most entertaining? What did you like/dislike about it? If you could go back, what would you do differently? Have you benefit from the course you did or didn't you?
Also, to the other farmers, employers, parents etc etc is there anything you think is missing from those who attended college/university and came to work for you? Anything you think should be added or have been taught more of??
Any input would be highly appreciated and most welcome, from students, teachers, farmers etc
Cheers
 

Cowabunga

Member
Location
Ceredigion,Wales
The biggest issue with current formal courses is that they lack on the practical side and tend to concentrate too much on training land managers with an emphasis on 'conservation' and shite like that which doesn't make for a competitive profitable business.
As for teaching students, the most difficult thing for some of them to grasp, even if the course actually teaches them this, is the ultimate aim of running a commercial farm. What is the essential aim of a farm manager and should be for all farm workers?

The answer is the same as for any other business. It is to make money. A lot is made of the word 'sustainable' these days, without regard to the absolutely essential magic ingredient that makes a farm sustainable, which is for it to make sufficient money to pay for management, investment and a healthy surplus of money.

What courses are equipping people for a farming life these days, I cannot say. What I do know is that there are far too many being trained to fill posts in DEFRA, the RPA, other agencies, assurance inspectors and advisory posts, rather than to directly run a farm business. The weight of these and the regulations they dream up are making agriculture less competitive and sustainable, not more so.
 

DrWazzock

Member
Location
Lincolnshire
Personally you can’t beat experience on the ground alongside ongoing vocational training courses, especially if you are old like me,
I did 3 years of academic education when i left school but it doesn’t really help with any particular job. Vocational training and on job the experience is what you really need.
If you want to be useful on a farm get your PA1 and PA2 and see if you can get some experience driving or helping with a sprayer or do a forklift or telehandler course. More useful than a higher level qualification.
You also need nowse. That can’t really be added by education. Nowse comes by keeping your wits about you, being “wick” and being careful. Not wasting time and money etc, showing willing and all those good things.
 

DrWazzock

Member
Location
Lincolnshire
When I was 7 years old I was sat in my deceased grandfathers farmhouse with lord carringtons agent. I was sat in there because my parents were busy clearing up outside at the end of my grandfathers tenancy. Lord Carrington was taking the farm in hand and his argent was about to interview a candidate for the job of farm manager. As the candidate got out of the car with his wife and family the agent said to me look how clean his car is, look how well turned out his family his. He has got the job before he even meets me. Much relies on personal attention to detail, motivation and attitude. You won’t alter that with education but by upbringing and self awareness.
 

Grandad Pig

Member
Location
Essex
Agree with all of the above.

My college are going over to C&G Technical qualifications from September. I have just received the course guides and specifications and it looks very practical, which has got to be a good thing. Still trying to get my head round it all.

no substitute for practical experience though, but at least they look like ‘hands on’ courses and not theory.
 

B'o'B

Member
Location
Rutland
PA1 & 2 etc. are good to get unless you’re in organics.
Telehandler course.
Manual handling.
First aid.
BASIS and FACTS are both good for the basics of agronomy, but would be very tough without some experience.
Welding is a good skill to have on a farm along with basic mechanics skills.
I did a BTEC in engineering before coming back to the farm which has really come in handy Over the years.
I’m not sure Uni is really the best place for learning about physical farming to be honest, but I may be being a bit biased as I never wanted to go to Uni and turned down my place after taking a year out.
 

glasshouse

Member
Location
lothians
Students coming out of college now are totally lacking in practical experience.
I employed a bsc graduate in agriculture this spring to do fencing and he couldnt drive a tractor
 
Hi everyone, been quite a while since i last posted anything on here so here goes......
I am looking for a bit of insight into the different levels of agricultural courses from those who have attended/completed them through college or university. What would you recommend for a mature student (30 - 40yrs old). NVQ, HNC, HND, FdSc, BSc, part-time/full time etc etc What did you find most entertaining? What did you like/dislike about it? If you could go back, what would you do differently? Have you benefit from the course you did or didn't you?
Also, to the other farmers, employers, parents etc etc is there anything you think is missing from those who attended college/university and came to work for you? Anything you think should be added or have been taught more of??
Any input would be highly appreciated and most welcome, from students, teachers, farmers etc
Cheers
you didn’t specify wether the study was for a farm owner / manager, for a farm worker, for someone involved in the extension industries ( agronomists, salesmen etc ) or just for personal interest ?

As a farm owner / manager, I see little point in formal agricultural college / university courses, as they are all so geared towards high input “production” agriculture, dominated by the big Ag chemical & fertiliser companies. That is so at odds to my own philosophy & mindset that I discount it immediately. If I had my time again, what I would do & recommend, is some sort of business management course. That would be far more valuable.

If the focus is more on farm workers / labourers / operators, then I would suggest getting as much practical experience, from as many different farms / people / businesses as you can & get the appropriate operating “tickets” for everything you can.

If you want to be an agronomist or similar, then yes, a science based agricultural degree would be the best bet - of course backed up by a few years of practical experience working for a number of bosses

In my mind, to be truly effective, education needs to teach you how to think - not what to think . . .
It should teach you how to find the answers - not just give you a limited number of solutions

It should expand the mind - not restrict it

you should never stop questioning, or learning, regardless of your age or position in life
 

fgc325j

Member
you didn’t specify wether the study was for a farm owner / manager, for a farm worker, for someone involved in the extension industries ( agronomists, salesmen etc ) or just for personal interest ?

As a farm owner / manager, I see little point in formal agricultural college / university courses, as they are all so geared towards high input “production” agriculture, dominated by the big Ag chemical & fertiliser companies. That is so at odds to my own philosophy & mindset that I discount it immediately. If I had my time again, what I would do & recommend, is some sort of business management course. That would be far more valuable.

If the focus is more on farm workers / labourers / operators, then I would suggest getting as much practical experience, from as many different farms / people / businesses as you can & get the appropriate operating “tickets” for everything you can.

If you want to be an agronomist or similar, then yes, a science based agricultural degree would be the best bet - of course backed up by a few years of practical experience working for a number of bosses

In my mind, to be truly effective, education needs to teach you how to think - not what to think . . .
It should teach you how to find the answers - not just give you a limited number of solutions

It should expand the mind - not restrict it

you should never stop questioning, or learning, regardless of your age or position in life
Agree with you on going to a business management course. I did a basic course on farm accounts, and then a basic management course where,
for the final exam, we had to prepare a business plan, in order to take on a farm tenancy. You soon realise there is a limit to how much you can
squeeze out of an acre of land, and it's no use piling on costs, and still expect to make a profit, especially when our plans were surgically gutted
by 2 local bank managers, who were well grounded in farm business dealings.
 

glasshouse

Member
Location
lothians
Agree with you on going to a business management course. I did a basic course on farm accounts, and then a basic management course where,
for the final exam, we had to prepare a business plan, in order to take on a farm tenancy. You soon realise there is a limit to how much you can
squeeze out of an acre of land, and it's no use piling on costs, and still expect to make a profit, especially when our plans were surgically gutted
by 2 local bank managers, who were well grounded in farm business dealings.
We did all that as part of our agriculture course
It was the most important part, but the rest was important too
 

Yale

Member
Livestock Farmer
You should first learn to grow plants and animals without the use of modern chemicals and animal health products.

This gives a greater insight into what plants and animals really need.

I think every farm kid should have a veg patch and a greenhouse.

It gives a fantastic basis in understanding the needs of plants of all varieties,nutrition and timings of the weather in your particular climate.It is a fast route to understanding what plants need to grow.
 

Hilly

Member
You should first learn to grow plants and animals without the use of modern chemicals and animal health products.

This gives a greater insight into what plants and animals really need.

I think every farm kid should have a veg patch and a greenhouse.

It gives a fantastic basis in understanding the needs of plants of all varieties,nutrition and timings of the weather in your particular climate.It is a fast route to understanding what plants need to grow.
Plants need , water sun Npk and weeded hmmm
 

Yale

Member
Livestock Farmer
Plants need , water sun Npk and weeded hmmm
There’s more to it than that though.

Its teaching youngsters what you take for granted.

Mate of mine has started growing veg,intelligent person,planted his peas out from cells to veg patch last week and they all died because of lack of water.

You have to make mistakes to learn,better making cheap mistakes first.

Growing veg teaches you about soils,reading the weather,preparation of soil and a raft of other skills.It also makes you recognise failures and why it happened.
 

flowerpot

Member
Students coming out of college now are totally lacking in practical experience.
I employed a bsc graduate in agriculture this spring to do fencing and he couldnt drive a tractor
When my son was at the local ag college - gone now unfortunately - he was showing the tutor, and the rest of the class, how to set up the plough correctly. I suppose we are a bit old fashioned in still using a plough!
 

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