Sarah Heath and Rebecca Kelsall receive their John Platt Travel Scholarships from Tony Garnett and Reaseheath’s Principal Marcus Clinton at the Royal Cheshire County Show

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

Sarah Heath, a trainee land agent from Tarporley, and Rebecca Kelsall, a herdswoman from Sandbach, have each been awarded £2,000 John Platt Travel Scholarships to fund international research which will benefit Cheshire’s farming community. They received their scholarships at this week’s Royal Cheshire County Show (Tuesday June 18) and will share their findings with fellow farmers, Young Farmers Clubs and agricultural students on their return.

Sarah, 21, who is currently on a 12 month placement with rural land agents Rostons Ltd., is planning a two week visit to the USA to investigate successful intensified dairy operations. She is keen to find out whether these methods of dairy production are environmentally and economically sustainable and whether they can be replicated in Cheshire.

Sarah, who lives on a mixed farm, explained: “I’m interested to find out how intensified dairy units in the USA deal with issues such as public perception, environmental management and staff management and whether their solutions could be successfully applied in the UK. I would like to thank Reaseheath College and the Cheshire Agricultural Society for giving me the opportunity to further my knowledge and interests.”

Rebecca, 26, worked until recently for JR & MC Downes at Webscott Farm, an organic and antibiotic free dairy farm in Shrewsbury. She leaves for New Zealand this week where she plans to gain an overview of extensive style dairy systems by working on an award winning ‘profit and not production’ dairy farm which runs its herd of 850 Spring block calving cows outside all year round. She will also visit other dairy businesses across the country in a trip which initially is for six months.

Rebecca said: “New Zealand style systems operating block calving and 365 day grazing are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. In a previous role as a genetic sales consultant with Semex UK I realised farmers were becoming interested in New Zealand genetics and I’m intrigued to see these cows and to study their breeding to find out why they work so well. I will also look at the commercial and financial side of the business.

“Experiencing this way of farming first hand is going to be very beneficial for me and I will return to the UK with a much better understanding of this style of farming. The John Platt Travel Scholarship is helping me tremendously by funding my flight and other travel arrangements, and I can’t thank Reaseheath College and the Cheshire Agricultural Society enough for their support.

“I am hoping to become a dairy consultant when I return and will relay my new knowledge from New Zealand to grassland style farms in the UK.”

Presenting the awards, Cheshire Agricultural Society Chairman Emeritus Tony Garnett 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 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.