Archive for June, 2010

Looking for a Career in Agriculture?

Are you considering a career in agriculture? Take a look at the helpful advice below from the Principal from Hartpury College in the U.K.

Get your foundations right

This means your GCSEs. It’s tempting to think that school doesn’t matter, that a vocationally dominated profession such as agriculture needs hands-on skills and nothing more, but you’d be wrong. You need your maths, and you need your English (Language) GCSE grades to be C ideally.

Why? First, you need to be literate enough to apply for jobs otherwise you’ll fall at the very first hurdle, and when you’re in them, to deal with paperwork and other issues.

Second, you need to be numerate enough to look after your own finances and life, let alone that of the business you may be working for. If you struggle with either of these, be honest with yourself and get help – every school or college worth its salt will be able to provide additional support and opportunities for you to improve your basic skills.

Finally, these are “gateway” qualifications. Without them, it’s much harder to progress on to the next stage and therefore you’re going to find your options a bit more limited. Everything you should be doing is about options – give yourself as many as possible, and if that means knuckling down for a bit and easing up on other activities such as Young Farmers for a couple of months, then that’s the grown-up thing to do.

Decide what “land-based” means to you

This isn’t as easy as it sounds. For example – if you’re from traditional farming stock and have always wanted to follow on in the family dairy business, it makes sense to choose a general course in agriculture that will give you a good grounding in the wide range of skills you will need to have to run and support a business effectively, such as the National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA).

Be aware, though, many qualification names will be changing over the next 12 months due to new national guidelines – get advice from your chosen colleges or Connexions advisers if you’re unsure about what’s the right level for you.

Perhaps you are more interested in the mechanical aspects of agriculture, in which case you need to consider a more specialised route. At Hartpury, for example, we offer National Diploma routes in both Farm Mechanisation and Land-Based Technology. The latter is a more scientific and diagnostic route, the former more hands-on and practical. What suits your ambitions and abilities? Only you can decide.

Today’s farmers and farm managers are also accountants, business managers, marketing experts, environmental scientists and personnel managers. Often all in an afternoon.

Add to this the planning of diversification, dealing with paperwork and the practicalities of broken fences and machinery, it’s clear you’ll need a wide range of skills before you’re able to make the grade. Again this brings us back to the key point of the education process giving you options.

Get practical experience

The final part of the jigsaw (for now) is ensuring you’re going to get a decent range of practical and relevant work-related experience.

Again, the college courses you opt for are going to help – but do they give you work experience? How many of them (for example) include the traditional full year-out in agriculture in the NDA. It may sound old-fashioned, but it’ll make you a great deal more employable at the end.

Do they give you a range of other certificates and qualifications along the way, such as Loadall, Pesticide Application, First Aid, Health and Safety, Transportation of Livestock etc?

Are there other things you could be doing right now, or in the near future, to give yourself the best chance of getting the job interview when you finally break out from home? You may think you know all there is to know about dairy, but if a farm manger role comes up on a mixed farm, it would be helpful to at least have some idea of how the arable world operates.

The future of the industry needs highly skilled, able young people to drive the business forward and, if you’re willing to take that challenge on, there can be few more satisfying and rewarding prospects out there.” Source: Tips for youngsters considering a career in agriculture – 07/06/2010 – Farmers Weekly

What resources have you found helpful while developing your ag career?

June is Dairy Month: Thank a Cow or a Dairy Farmer!!

When the weather started to get really hot in Minnesota, we knew June had arrived. Dairy month gave us extra reasons to enjoy and share the fruits of our labors (well actually, our cows’ labors) with friends, family and buddies at school. Ice cream, yogurt and cheese were among our favorites and we brought samples to 4-H club meetings, church gatherings and end of the school year picnics. Summer parades throughout June ended with samples of real butter on soda crackers and hand-scooped shakes served in tents next to carnival rides and games. At the same time we were getting our cattle ready to show at the county, and if we were really lucky, state fair. There were also preliminary county and regional Dairy Princess pageants sponsored by the dairy association. Regional winners went to the state fair to compete for the title of State Dairy Princess and have their likeness carved in a 65 pound block of butter. What a great way to celebrate an industry and a healthy food product.

Today with easy to use social media technology such as YouTube, the internet is filled with celebratory videos honoring the hard working farmers and their families. Here’s one we found:

Check out the Müller® Dairy website and see their cow appreciation. You can even follow Mary the cow on Facebook.

What other positive messages have you seen celebrating June as Dairy Month?

11 Tips to Keep Your Tractor Safe

You have a lot invested in your tractors and farm equipment. Stealing farm equipment isn’t a new trend to report on, but it does happen more often than you’d like to think. As I was reading the Spring issue of AGCO Advantage magazine the other day, I found these tips on how to “Make a Thief Think Twice” before touching your farm equipment (by Lynn Grooms and Red Barn Publishing). To keep your tractors and farm equipment safe, you should always make sure to:
  • Keep records on equipment, including year, manufacturer, model, serial number and photos.
  • Duplicate a unit’s product identification number (PIN) or other serial numbers in at least two places on the equipment, one obvious and one hidden. Use etching tools, die stamping or a steel punch. Also,you can add an owner-applied number (OAN) – that’s a number you create yourself.
  • Register your equipment on a national database that works with law enforcement, such as the National Equipment Register (NER).
  • Get thief-deterring decals to show you’ve registered with NER. They’re free if you’re a subscriber to NER’s services. For details, visit or call 1-866-663-7872 to learn what equipment is listed.
  • Install case-hardened or laminated steel padlocks, preferably with tamper-proof guards. Also, “blind” or enclosed locking devices on equipment doors and perimeter gates are good preventative measures.
  • Anchor equipment left in the field with either chain or cable, preferably case-hardened versions thick enough to resist torching, saws or bolt cutters.
  • Immobilize equipment by removing the battery, lowering blades or buckets, or even removing tires.
  • Group equipment together, such as pinning a tractor between two other pieces of equipment, so it requires considerable time and effort to move.
  • Direct lighting onto equipment.
  • Install theft prevention devices – such as anti-siphoning devices or kill switches that prevent electrical current from flowing from batteries or to the starter. On higher-risk or higher-value equipment, disable fuel, hydraulic and/or electrical systems.
  • Use GPS trackers. But before you buy, make sure the technology works in your area. Some cellular-based devices might not have coverage in certain rural areas. You also need to weigh the costs. Some of these devices can cost as much as $600

If your equipment gets stolen…

  • Report your loss to law enforcement, as well as your insurer and a specialist service (such as NER) to increase chances of recovery.
  • Communicate with neighbors and others in the community , especially people with similar equipment. Let local ag retailers sand grain elevator managers know.
  • Contact the equipment manufacturer about the theft. Many dealer networks maintain “hot” lists.
  • Offer a reward through NER’s Stolen Equipment Hotline at 1-866-637-8477.
  • Contact sources, such as the ACTION network in California and Farm Bureaus, who have e-mail alert systems to let other owners and law enforcement know about the theft.

For other great tips on keeping your farm equipment safe, or to order a subscription of the AGCO Advantage magazine, contact your local dealer.

Student Delivers Project to School on a Tractor

This is a cool article about a student in the UK who used a Ferguson TED 20 tractor to deliver his GCSE project to school. In case you were wondering, the GCSE is like a high school diploma in the UK.

“There was no question of Tom Stobart’s homework being left on the bus! In fact, the enterprising pupil’s GCSE project literally stopped the traffic when he drove it to school hitched to the back of a Ferguson TED20 tractor.

Part of his GCSE Design Technology coursework, the 16-year- old designed and built a 6ft x 3ft transport box for the TED20 and duly handed it over in situ to his teacher on deadline day.

Driving at the tractor’s top speed of 25 mph, Tom made the 10-mile trip during the morning rush hour from his home in the village of Bubbenhall to Bablake School in Coundon Coventry.

“I could have brought it in on a trailer but it was meant for the tractor so it made more sense to me and a lot less hassle,” says Tom. Inspired to pursue agricultural engineering after visits to his aunt’s farm in the Lake District, he spent six months restoring the 59-year old TED20 to working order and has recently passed his tractor driving test.

His enthusiasm and dedication has already been recognised in the industry and he will be taking up a four-year apprenticeship with Hinckley-based Massey Ferguson dealer, Bruce Hopkins in August.

“I’m really interested in agricultural engineering and looking forward to starting my apprenticeship when I leave school,” he says.

Commenting, Tony Cox, Massey Ferguson’s Market Services Manager said: “Talented youngsters like Tom are just what we need to ensure the highest standards in our industry. We are sure he has a very successful future ahead.”” Source: Massey Ferguson – GCSE Project Delivered by Tractor

Have you driven your tractor to school lately, or used it to deliver important goods?

Farming Prevents Allergies?

A recent study suggests that children raised on a farm are shown to have a lower risk for developing allergies.

“Dr. Jonas Eriksson of the University of Gothenburg and colleagues found that people who spent the first five years of their lives on a farm were about 20 percent less likely to have itchy, runny eyes and noses due to allergies, from age 16 up through to age 75.

So-called allergic rhinitis has become increasingly common since the mid-20th century, Eriksson and his team note, although the reasons for the increase are unknown. A study they conducted found nearly 30 percent of adults in West Sweden had the condition. “The prevalence found in this study is high, but in some countries, e.g. Australia, even higher prevalence has been reported,” Eriksson told Reuters Health via e-mail.

A number of studies have found allergies are less common among children and adults raised on farms but it has not been known if this protection lasts into middle and old age.

To investigate, Eriksson and his colleagues surveyed 18,087 residents of West Sweden about their respiratory health and whether they lived on farms as children. They also looked at whether living in a more urban setting during adulthood affected allergic rhinitis risk.

Twenty percent of people who had lived on a farm up to age 5 had allergic rhinitis, compared to 28 percent of people who hadn’t been raised on a farm. The effect was strongest among 16- to 30-year-olds (20 percent vs. 31 percent), and weakest among 61- to 75-year-olds (17 percent vs. 19 percent).” Source: Farm kids at lower allergy risk, even in their 70s

What are some other benefits of raising children on a farm?

*Photo by Grant MacDonald

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