Comment: Shadow your way to farming career

Polly Coleman
Polly Coleman
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FARMER’S DAUGHTER Polly explains how she carved out a career in agriculture for herself.

Born and bred on a farm, I have happy memories of walking the dog down the green lane and playing on the straw bales. Then, when we were old enough, helping Dad to grade potatoes.

Our family farm is at Speeton Cliffs, where the Wolds meet the coast; it is an arable farm which produces cereals, oil seed rape and potatoes.

A former member of Bridlington Young Farmers Club, I play hockey for Driffield Ladies and tennis for Harpham Ladies and I steward at both the Great Yorkshire Show and Driffield Show, and I have recently joined the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group.

If someone had told me five years ago that I would be writing this article as a qualified agronomist, I would never have believed them. My agriculture career started with five years at Harper Adams University. On completion of my Rural Estate and Land Management degree I spent some very happy times working at Dee, Atkinson and Harrison in Driffield, until I decided that I would like to become an agronomist.

I have been working for Agrovista, within the Yorkshire team based out of the Pocklington depot, for about 15 months. We are a young team, so my task is to try and build my own customer book, finding my own farms to walk and farmers to advise.

Agrovista is a national firm supplying of agronomy advice, crop protection products and precision farming services. As you can imagine, the biggest challenge I face in the agronomy sector is that most farmers already have an agronomist (usually male) who they have dealt with for a long time and have a successful relationship with. However, the industry is changing rapidly, technology is ever increasing and agronomy is no longer just out of a chemical can, it is so much more. I strive to provide good value and innovative solutions for my farming customers.

The main challenge for our industry is the ever increasing pressure on the use of some active ingredients of pesticides in the UK. More and more are coming under scrutiny and if they are lost then control of some pest sand diseases will be very difficult. A prime example of this is the suspension of neonicotinoid seed treatments in oil seed rape and the issues we now face with increasing resistance to insecticides.

Despite the challenges, a career in agriculture is rewarding and my advice to anyone wanting to get into the industry is to follow your dream, get stuck in and learn from others. Ask others if you can shadow them, watching as they go about their daily work routines. The knowledge and insight you will gain by spending time with different professionals in our industry is invaluable. I was fortunate enough to do just this; I asked the question, they invited me to join them and here I am, now qualified and building my farming clients. I hope, in time, that I will be able to do the same for someone else wanting to be join the industry.

Finally, I would just like to say that if I do appear on your farm out of the blue, a cup of tea would be much appreciated, particularly now the weather has turned a bit more wintery, but most importantly a smile would be even better.

Future Farmers of Yorkshire was launched in 2010 and is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. It brings together younger farmers, vets and industry supporters.