On 5th March, Ed Ford, Harper Adams alumnus returned to the university to give a presentation to FdSc and BSc first year Agriculture students. Ed gave students an insight into his life before Harper, his time at university as well as his placement year and his time at Beeswax Dyson Farming where he now works as Assistant Farm Manager.
At 18, Ed had very different career aspirations despite growing up on the family farm in Pembrokeshire. He wanted to join the police however, after that didn’t work out he went travelling, first to Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand and then to Central and South America. Ed explained it was one of the best things he’s ever done and encouraged students to go travelling after their studies.
In 2011 Ed started a Foundation Degree in Agriculture at Harper Adams and talked about his placement year at PG Rix Farms which is a large scale farming operation in Colchester; much different to Ed’s experience of his family farm. Ed reiterated the importance of experience and employability which are both gained from a year in industry which ultimately gives Harper graduates the edge when looking for employment.
In 2014, Ed topped up his degree to a BSc in Agriculture with Farm Business Management and graduated in 2015 with a group of friends he is still in regular contact with and partner, Tabitha, who has since become his wife.
Beeswax Dyson Farming, owned by Sir James Dyson, was set up in 2012 and covers 13,745 hectares, with 12,025 of those cropped, over three areas – Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. The business has expanded into haulage, property, estate and environment as well as having several anaerobic digester plants providing renewable energy to the National Grid. 130 members of staff are employed by Beeswax Dyson.
Based at the Lincolnshire site, which is 9588 hectares over 677 fields, Ed is BASIS/FACTS qualified as a technical agronomist and is also the in-house drone pilot for Beeswax. In addition to that, he manages the weighbridge and is responsible for stock management totalling 140,000 tonnes. There is significant data analysis involved in Ed’s role as innovation and technology are crucial for Beeswax with field mapping used as well as telematics and drones.
The cattle and sheep enterprise is located at the Gloucestershire site, where the Dyson family reside, as well as an additional 1012 cropped hectares. Commercial letting predominantly takes place at the Oxfordshire site due to its close proximity to London.
Ed finished his presentation by giving the students some words of advice, “Use what’s available to you, put the effort in and make the most of your time here.”