Georgie Packer-Arthy, now in the final year of our BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Farm Business Management degree, writes about her placement year.
My placement at Law Farming started earlier than planned. With all exams online and having been locked down at home, I was able to promptly finish second year and set off for Hertfordshire at the beginning of June.
Law Farming is a large integrated farm business covering 2,000 ha which is split into arable cropping and grazing for sheep and cattle. When choosing a placement, I knew a mixed farm would be the best option for me as I enjoy tractor work while also having a keen interest in livestock.
Before going to Harper Adams University, I would never have dreamt of applying for a farm job 70 miles from home as it would have been too daunting. However, it has proved to be the best decision and has really improved my confidence. I feel extremely fortunate that my placement year has not really been affected by the pandemic. With farm work carrying on as normal, it was just the absence of a social life that was notable in one lockdown during placement, it was the middle of lambing, so I was kept busy.
Over the last 15 months, my role has predominately been working with livestock. This included transporting sheep with a tractor and trailer, electric fencing, and routine checks. Also, I was given the responsibility of picking fat lambs for the butchers and was lucky enough to take my own sheepdog to train.
A key area of interest for me was the suckler herd, which is managed on a low-input all-year-round outdoor system. The cows are managed using strict rotational grazing to maximise grass available. I have learnt a lot about grass management and improved efficiency using mob grazing.
On the arable side, I completed two harvests as a trailer driver, carried out primary cultivations using a Challenger and learnt how to plough with a furrow press, which has improved my knowledge and understanding of arable production.
Also, I was given the opportunity to drive the combine a couple of times during harvest and it was an excellent insight into the skills and knowledge required to operate at a complex level.
Whenever there is an opportunity to learn something new, never turn it down, as the saying goes life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Placement year is a time to put in as much effort in as you can and learn as much as possible to take away with you.