• Rebecca Cracknell and Rob Yardley receive their John Platt Travel Scholarships from Keith Thomas and Reaseheath Principal Meredydd David at the Royal Cheshire Show

Two ambitious young agriculturists are looking forward to global travel thanks to a scholarship run by Reaseheath College and the Cheshire Agricultural Society.

Rebecca Cracknell and Rob Yardley were each presented with John Platt Travel Scholarships worth £2000 during the Presidents Lunch at the Royal Cheshire Show this week (June 20 /21).

Rebecca, 28, an Animal Health Officer for the Animal and Plant Health Agency in Crewe, plans to use her scholarship to research whether high levels of biosecurity can successfully control disease in cattle. She is particularly interested in investigating how farms near national parks protect their herds from disease spread by people, wildlife and other species.

Rebecca will focus on Australia, where cattle have become TB free but face a growing problem with Johnes disease.  As well as visiting farms she hopes to meet colleagues working for Animal Health Australia to discuss the country’s Johnes Disease project.

Raised on a local dairy farm, Rebecca lives in Nantwich, is a former pupil at Brine Lees School and Malbank Sixth Form College and used to work for the Nantwich Veterinary Group as a cattle technician.

She said: “Gaining the John Platt scholarship will enable me to visit Australia, which is taking the lead in the fight against Johnes Disease, a horrible cattle disease with no known cure.  I’m particularly interested in learning how tighter biosecurity influences the outcome, and to use this knowledge to help Cheshire farmers.”

Rob Yardley, 31, a Farm Manager with leading farming company Velcourt, combines his work with studying for a Foundation Degree in Agriculture at Reaseheath.

Rob plans to study alternative options for food producers if glyphosate, a global weed killer commonly used in arable farming, is withdrawn. He is keen to see whether UK growers can farm without glyphosate in a sustainable manner and would like to investigate best practice from contemporaries around the world.

Another of Rob’s interests is resistance development in crops, and he aims to study glyphosate resistant cultivars and how best to avoid resistance development.

He intends to use his scholarship to visit North America to research farms with differing glyphosate use, enabling him to analyse cultivation practice and integrated pest management policy. He will also visit Brazil to investigate glyphosate use in that country.

Rob will further his research at Agritechnica, a leading agricultural machinery show in Germany, where he will be supporting visiting Oxford Farming Conference scholars.

He said: “I was delighted to be awarded the John Platt Travel Scholarship. Hopefully it will enable me to develop ideas and exchange knowledge with farmers around the world, and that this will ultimately help to develop UK agriculture.

“I would like to thank Reaseheath College and the Cheshire Agricultural Society for giving me the opportunity to further my knowledge and interests.”

The John Platt scholarship is in memory of John Platt, a former Chair of Reaseheath Governors and former Chairman, President and Honorary Life Warden of the Cheshire Agricultural Society.

Presenting the awards, Cheshire Agricultural Society Director Keith Thomas said that both recipients had been outstanding candidates and had shown the drive, ambition and desire to seek out new information and technology which would benefit the Cheshire farming community.

The John Platt Travel Scholarship is awarded annually and is open to young people who study or work in Cheshire’s landbased industries. Winners share their findings with fellow farmers, Young Farmers Clubs and agricultural students.

For further details see www.reaseheath.ac.uk/john-platt-scholarship