IT has been announced that six people from the south west are new scholars for the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust. 

The trust has appointed 23 new scholars - their largest cohort ever. 

During their scholarships, the scholars wil travel internationally to gain an understanding of their study topic from global experts. 

Mike Vacher, director of the trust, said: "Following a substantial number of exceptional applicants this year, we are delighted to announce our biggest ever cohort of Nuffield Farming Scholars. 

"Our 2024 Scholars have already displayed a clear passion for their chosen topics, and I have no doubt that they have the potential to become leaders who shape the future of agriculture.

“We are looking forward to introducing our 2024 cohort to the Nuffield Farming family at this year’s ‘Super Conference’ in Exeter. This will be the pinnacle of what is already set to be a fantastic event, with over 30 Scholars presenting their study findings.”

The conference will be held at Sandy Park near Exeter from November 14-16. To see a full list of scholars at the 2023 event, click here

The new south west scholars

  • Laura Awdry, from Truro in Cornwall - She was born in New Zealand but farms in partnership with her husband on a 20 year Duchy of Cornwall tenancy which they took on in 2022. Rearing 500 calves annually on her own farm, she hopes to focus on dairy-bred beef production and believes that it can be part of the solution for sustainable and profitable farming. Laura wishes to visit New Zealand, Australia, USA, Ireland, Belgium, Holland and France to research dairy beef production models and understand how they could benefit multiple farming sectors within the UK. She will particularly focus on the role of genetics and access to future supply chains for dairy beef.

South West Farmer: Laura Awdry.Topic: 

Every Calf has a Value, but is every calf equal? Sustainable and profitable dairy beef production in the UK
Supported by the Dartington Cattle Breeding Trust

  • Sophie Gregory, from Thorncombe in Dorset - She is an organic dairy farmer based in Dorset, farming 1,500 acres in partnership with her husband. They aim to farm in an environmental, social and sustainable way with collaboration, progressive ideas and community engagement at the heart of their business. With the rise of regenerative farming and plant-based products, Sophie aims to explore consumer understanding of organic and where it sits on the shelf. She will visit countries where organic is thriving and where it is losing its position, including South Korea, Taiwan, India, USA, France, Austria and New Zealand, to understand what the UK organic sector can learn.

South West Farmer: Sophie Gregory.Topic: 

What is the future for organic farming?
Supported by The Trehane Trust

  • Polly Hilton, from Exeter, Devon - She is the founder and cider maker at Find & Foster Fine Ciders, a small business which aims the reveal the potential of traditional Devon cider orchards by creating champagne-method ciders. Polly believes that the Fine Cider industry has untapped potential in the UK and is keen to learn more about how its value can be communicated to consumers. She hopes to achieve this by learning from the best cider makers and winemakers in the world about improving product quality, visiting France, Georgia, Switzerland, Northern Spain, and Brazil. Polly will also speak to other experts about transforming the reputation and raising the value of Fine Cider.

South West Farmer: Polly Hilton.Topic: 

Elevating the value of and respect for Fine Cider to safeguard the future of orchards
Supported jointly by the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers and Three Counties Agricultural Society

  • Dan Smith, from Monmouth in Gloucestershire - He is the farm manager at Jamie’s Farm, a national charity which invites young people to take part in a residential programme on their working livestock farm. He manages the farm under regenerative, agroecological principles focused on soil health and biodiversity, and is proud to farm carbon negatively on a low input system. With agriculture facing a period of change, Dan believes that now is the time to cultivate new interest in the industry. During his Scholarship, he would like to understand how to encourage new entrants, attract young people from diverse backgrounds and keep the current capable workforce. He aims to visit Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.

South West Farmer: Dan Smith.Topic: 

Generation Regeneration. We need you.
Supported by McDonald's UK & Ireland

  • Cormac White, from Frome, Somerset - He is a farm vet based in Somerset with an interest in sheep and goat dairying. With ambitions to set up his own small ruminant dairying business, he is keen to explore the viability of grazing-based systems for new entrants. He hopes to explore sustainable business models for small ruminant dairying in both Europe and New Zealand, and he aims to understand how they could be applied in the UK to address the barriers faced by new entrants.

South West Farmer: Cormac WhiteTopic: 

Developing a sustainable grazing-based small ruminant dairy system suitable for new entrants with alternative supply chain models.
Supported by The Thomas Henry Foundation

  • Harold Winslet, from Bristol, Somerset - He is the future farming manager at Cambs Farms Growers, a large fresh produce provider operating in the East Anglian Fens. He hopes to further develop his understanding of soils and the complexities of peatlands. During his Scholarship, Harold will examine the possibilities of alternative methods of production on peatlands, including paludiculture (farming on rewetted peat) and rotational wetting, and explore if techniques used internationally could be utilised in the UK. He would like to visit Northern Europe and South East Asia.

South West Farmer: Harry WinsletTopic: 

For Peat's Sake! Do we need a new approach to peatland agriculture
upported by Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association