17 February 2021
Working in the agricultural industry is open to anyone, even if you don’t come from a family farm. Here, final year BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Farm Business Management student Joe Footit explains that not coming from a farming background didn’t set him back in the slightest.
“For as long as I can remember I have always been interested in agriculture,” Joe said. “Although I am not from a farming background I have been very fortunate to grow up in a rural setting. As a child I remember fondly the busy harvest period and some very kind farmers who would let me ride in the combines with them.
“At the age of 17 I was able to get some work experience on a farm near home which confirmed my beliefs that agriculture was the career for me.”
While Joe had looked at a range of higher education options, it was the interview day at Harper Adams that made it clear the university had most to offer him. Joe commented: “I like the rural setting of the campus and the way it has been integrated with the farm to allow for more outdoor practical learning - it’s something I still really appreciate today.
“I also think the number of modern, smart buildings; the assets and resources used for teaching, and private study are fantastic. To me this showed that Harper Adams is a university that has been investing heavily in improving their modern approach and ways of teaching.”
With his ideal place at Harper Adams in mind, Joe was supported by Harper staff to gain the relevant experience he would need to be certain this was the course for him. He shared: “I had always planned to gain further experience before starting my course so having to prove that I had completed a number of weeks work experience before starting was an exciting challenge. It was nice to have the reassurance that this could be completed on the Harper farm had I been unable to find work.
“The courses I was able to complete through Access to Agriculture and the land based skills program were of immense help. There were one or two at the time that I didn't think were of huge importance to me personally but have come in use since. The sprayer qualifications I acquired have been immensely important to me and have allowed me more opportunities to gain experience on my placement and I am very grateful that Harper required me to do these courses."
Having secured his place on his chosen course, Joe went on to have many more useful and exciting opportunities come his way. “Agriculture with Farm Business Management has given me a really good understanding of the inner financial workings of business and is a course well suited to those who want to become farm business consultants.
“For my placement year I worked on a large vegetable farm on the south coast. I did a huge number of jobs from carting to winter ploughing but my main role was preparing ground for growing broccoli and French beans. It was the role I was most proud of because it involved a number of different tasks including spraying, power harrowing and spreading slug pellets all at the same time. I gained a huge amount of technical and mechanical knowledge, and it was the first time I was able to work for a business and see it through an entire 12 month season. I really enjoyed my time on placement and I made a lot of good friends. It has certainly helped me find a job for after graduation.
“While I have had many great experiences at Harper, the summer balls in particular are always a blast. Despite this, not everything is easy; I think my biggest challenge so far has been time management and making sure I get my assignments in on time. In the past it has been difficult but starting them sooner this year has really taken the pressure off.”
Joe is currently working on his dissertation, entitled An investigation into the feasibility of precision irrigation in the UK. He is seeking to understand if there is a need for precision irrigation in the UK and if so, why it isn’t being utilized.
Joe’s future plans see him aiming to become a farm manager on a large arable farm. He also has ambitions of working with the NFU to help shape the future of agriculture in the UK.