1 June 2023

 

Over 1500 farming businesses from across Wales have benefitted from multi sector discussion groups delivered through Farming Connect since 2015. As we open the application window for 2023 now is your time to benefit from all the development and learning opportunities our discussion groups have to offer.

All groups are facilitated by an expert in their field of work, delivering a dynamic and engaging programme of meetings focusing on the key aspects of your business. These meetings will enable you to become more economically and environmentally sustainable.

Group meetings are interactive and where appropriate are held out on-farm to illustrate best practice. They will also enable you to put the theory into practice and support you to make changes in your business.

Two individuals who joined Farming Connect discussion groups in the Aberystwyth area are dairy farmer Martin Griffiths and sheep farmer Maddy Lewis.

Martin found out about the Aberystwyth dairy discussion group from his local Farming Connect Development Officer.

“The first thing I gained was understanding that I was on the right track. That’s just as important as learning something new”.

“From then on, we have implemented red clover on the farm, and it’s thanks to the people I met in the group that I had the confidence to do it”.

Maddy was actively looking for peer to peer help when she came across the local sheep discussion group, facilitated by her local development officer, Marc Bowen.

“It’s nice to discuss day to day things. Sometimes, when you’re at home you think things over, but when you’re in a discussion group, you can talk things through and listen to other people’s opinions”

Marc Bowen, North Ceredigion Development Officer has been working with farmers in the area for many years.

“I really enjoy working with farmers, every query, every conversation and every problem is different and it’s great to be able to offer support through Farming Connect to help businesses develop further”

“Hearing that people have been implementing changes on their farm as a direct result of attending a discussion group is great. Putting together a bunch of keen people, a topic specialist or expert, and you know only good things can come from it”.

Dai John had taken advantage of other Farming Connect services before joining a discussion group, but after a conversation with his local Farming Connect development officer, Hannah Wright, he knew he’d enjoy the social aspect of the group meetings.

“I’ve always enjoyed talking to like-minded individuals and you can learn as much from the conversations you have over the teapot on the side as you can by listening to the expert talking.”

Dai also mentioned the importance of communicating and socialising as farmers, “I enjoy talking to like minded people and getting out of the house. You’re not going to use everything you hear, but you hear bits, and make changes here and there”

Dai, who farms in Gower, has now implemented a rotational grazing system following on from information gained through Farming Connect.

Hannah Wright, South Wales Development Officer, has been working with farmers in the area over the past few years, and is a proactive member of the local farming community.

“Working with farmers is great, I enjoy following something through from that first query or problem, and finding a solution, or being able to suggest a service for that individual. Hearing that people have been implementing changes on their farm as a direct result of attending a discussion group is great”.

A group of North Wales livestock farmers who were part of the Hiraethog Discussion Group, collectively captured an estimated £26,000 cost saving across their sheep flocks by increasing the metabolisable energy (ME) value of their silage from 9.6 MJ ME/kg dry matter (DM) to 10.6 over a three year period within the group . This was as a direct result of knowledge gained from specialist speakers who advised on topics ranging from soil health and crop management, through to the nutritional value of ensiled forage when fed to pregnant ewes.

The group has been facilitated by Guto Owen, Conwy Development Officer for Farming Connect. “Gaining advice from several people on a range of specialisms help farmers to develop their businesses - Small changes lead to big gains’’ he said.

Aled Owen, one of the group’s members, said that he had benefited from peer support within the group as well as the advice from consultants.“Being part of this group has led me to increase my knowledge on soil health, in turn this has resulted in better crop yields and improved forage quality in the past few years’’

Member to member support has been important, according to Guto this is the crucial reason why the group has been so successful.

“The group has regular chats on the WhatsApp group chat, seeking advice and sharing ideas, the good the bad and the ugly.’’

If you are looking to be part of a dynamic and progressive group of like minded individuals, Farming Connect’s discussion group recruitment window is open for applications from 1st June to 12pm on 23rd June. To learn more about the discussion group programme and to apply visit our website or contact your local Development Officer.


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