PGR Student News – Autumn 2022

Following on from the news in October about our new post-graduate students, we are delighted to provide an update on what our new recruits and existing students have been engaged with and doing over recent months.

ESRC Festival of Social Science Event – Future Farming Policy in Wales

Theo Lenormand and Aimee Morse, together with Lydia Beaman (Cardiff University), organised an event for the annual ESRC Festival of Social Science in October. Following the Festival launch event at Cardiff University, where CCRI placement student, Bee Ray-Smallcalder and Aimee asked people their thoughts on the future of farming in Wales, the team held an online panel session and workshop to discuss the Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals. The discussion has informed a response to the Welsh Government’s consultation on the Scheme.

Welsh Real Food and Farming Conference 2022 

Annie Buckle chaired the ‘Soil health for farmer: Carbon and beyond’ talk at the Welsh Real Food and Farming conference, held at the University of Wales Trinity St David, in Lampeter. The conference ran from 23-25th November with Annie’s event taking place on the 24th. There were three speakers, including:

  • Dr Non Williams from Farming Connect – she discussed their work with farmers to determine the soil carbon stock of multiple fields from varying farming systems within Wales 
  • Dr Felicity Crotty from the RAU – she discussed the AHDB project which aimed to determine optimal grazing management to enhance soil biodiversity and soil carbon. (This project was conducted in conjunction with the CCRI and is being extended through Annie’s PhD project).  
  • Hal Drysdale from the Wye Soil Group – he is one of the founding members of a farming group from the Wye Valley area which formed in response to a need for more information about their soil health. From this, the above AHDB project was initiated  

The conference and talk were a great success, with around 300 attendees across the three days and a lot of interesting questions and discussions had by all. 

Theo Lenormond has spent most of his autumn working on his PhD in relation to the future of Welsh farming in the horizon shaped by the new context around farming economics or policies. He detailed what could be the impact of the Welsh government’s future farming policies and whether it had the potential to reach the goals set in the Welsh Agricultural Bill around a sustainable farming sector. He also explored potential impact of the current economic environment on farming in Wales. A paper on this analysis will be presented at the French Society of Rural Economy in December.

After a hectic and enjoyable year, Pippa Simmonds has now finished data collection for her PhD. She most recently facilitated a participatory photo project with a group of livestock farmers, which involved fascinating discussions on themes such as nature, farming as a way of life, and bridging the gap between farmers and non-farmers. Pippa is now undertaking a 3-month internship at the Welsh Government, exploring the evidence around which policies can support a just transition to Net Zero. Keep an eye on Pippa’s social media for an online photo exhibition in the new year: LinkedIn, Twitter, and Mastodon

Nikki Yoxall has been involved in a Scottish Government funded project “Agroecology: Enabling the Transition” supporting livestock farmers in Northeast Scotland to explore ways in which they can shift their practice towards agroecology. As part of this project, she recently chaired a webinar to share the findings of recent agroecological research in Scotland, hearing from University of Strathclyde’s Dr Miranda Geelhoed, Dr Alison Karley and Dr Luz-Maria Lozada of James Hutton Institute. In September, Nikki had the opportunity to share findings from her MSc and PhD literature review with colleagues from the Soil Association (co-sponsors of her PGR programme) as well as representing the voice of the farmer at the Regenerative Agriculture Summit in Amsterdam. 

Adam Fisher has been busy conducting in-depth interviews with anglers across England and Wales for his PhD, which he aims to submit in mid-2023. The interviews have been structured around validating an angler typology that Adam developed from a survey of 567 fishers earlier in 2022. The interviews also explored views and perception of marine governance and management in the contact of Brexit.  In the midst of all this, he has also moved house, so is looking forward to the Christmas period after a hectic few months!

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