Rising star Robert addresses the Oxford Farming Conference

Ambitious young farmer Robert Yardley addressed delegates and had the opportunity to meet Princess Anne at this year’s Oxford Farming Conference (OFC).

Robert, 29, a current Reaseheath Foundation Degree in Agriculture undergraduate, took to the main stage of the prestigious conference to speak of his experiences with the Young DLG – the youth network of the German Agricultural Society.

Robert, who attended the OFC last year as Reaseheath’s representative, was one of three scholar delegates to be awarded an OFC travel scholarship to attend the Young DLG Conference at Agritechnica, Germany, last November. The exchange is part of a collaboration between the OFC and the Young DLG and aims to give young people involved in British and German agriculture a networking and learning opportunity at leading agricultural events.

Robert Yardley meets Princess Anne at the Oxford Farming Conference

Robert Yardley meets Princess Anne at the Oxford Farming Conference

Robert, who is studying at Reaseheath part-time alongside his job as an arable operator, gave a presentation at the Young DLG conference about farming in the UK and more specifically in Cheshire. He was also able to tour Agritechnica, which is a leading international exhibition of agricultural machinery and equipment, go on farm tours organised by the Young DLG and enjoy interacting with German young farmers.

Describing the experience as ‘a great opportunity which will help further my future career’, Robert told the OFC how he had been able to explore farming practices which met current challenges and had been impressed with the way some businesses were structured to make the most of the marketplace.

He told delegates: “I was delighted to attend Agritechnica and to be representing the OFC at such a globally important event.”

Outside the conference, Robert paid tribute to the support he has received from Reaseheath Agriculture and in particular from course manager Dr Jane Richardson, who put him forward to attend the OFC in 2015. Reaseheath’s delegate for 2016 was Chris Kogel, who is also studying for a Foundation Degree in Agriculture but specialising in Dairy Herd Management.

The three day conference had the theme ‘Bold Agriculture’ and featured Defra Secretary Liz Truss and EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan among other key speakers.

For more info see www.ofc.org.uk

Since attending the Young DLG conference, Robert has taking every opportunity to learn more about agriculture in other EU countries and is particularly interested in how businesses manage volatile markets.

He is a member of the NFU’s North West Crops Board and as a result was invited by leading agricultural company Syngenta to travel to the Ukraine in December to share his experience of the UK industry with farmers there. Accompanying NW Crop’s Board chairman Olly Harrison, he spent a week building relationships with farmers who are interested in entering into a new grain market strategy with Syngenta.

Robert made a presentation to around 50 farmers at a finance forum on how the grain market works in the UK. He also toured individual farms meeting owners and managers, which allowed him to better understand the Ukraine perspective of grain marketing. The visit was so successful that Syngenta is likely to repeat it early this year.

Robert re-entered farming in his early 20s after experiencing several other industries. He gained valuable experience as a harvesting contractor in Australia and New Zealand before taking his current job on an arable farm in Widnes and aims to be a farm manager.