FFA2019 post-event blog 7:
Inspiring the next generation
Monday, Apr 29, 2019
During the session at FFA, three speakers gave three different viewpoints on inspiring the next generation.
The next generation of farmers
Firstly, Teleri Fielden, first generation farmer/shepherdess, Llyndy Isaf Farm, Wales, described her 28-year journey from a large town to running a 600 acre National Trust upland hill farm in Snowdonia National Park and the opportunities and experiences which had helped her.
Her farming grandparents first exposed her to the profession. After university, she worked on an organic farm in the Rhône Alpes for over a year, while studying for a diploma in ecological agriculture that gave her valuable understanding of the science to implement agri-environment schemes. “It was the most formative, but hardest year of my life.” Along the way, she gained confidence to respond to criticism and handle practical challenges.
She is currently the recipient of an annual, since extended to three years, scholarship set up by the National Trust and the Wales Young Farmers club to help people entering the profession. Ms Fielden has also benefited from an Agri Academy rural leadership course and other training programmes. “We expect so much from farmers and there is so much to learn, that you have to have training,” she explained.
Listening to nature
Bernie Krause, Soundscape Ecologist, presented, via video link, the potential of this new field for agricultural resource management. Soundscapes (all the sound that reaches our ears from whatever source) can be used to evaluate the health of habits, while spectograms (graphical illustrations of sound) show the consequences for the natural world of a broad range of direct or indirect human activity.
“We can instantly tell from looking at the graphics generated from the audio recordings how well a particular habitat is thriving,” he explained.
Three striking spectograms showed the effects of logging and global warming, with time on the horizontal axis and on the vertical biophony, the collective sounds produced by all organisms in a given habitat and time audible to the human ear. In each case, the initial varied and healthy forest biophony becomes almost silent over the years as birds, mammals and insects disappear.
Well over half the habitats Mr Krause has recorded in the last 50 years are now completely silent or radically altered. “When a habitat is under stress, the pathology is conveyed through its voice, just like ours when we are sick.”
Tackling food waste
Jenny Du, Co-founder and Vice President of Operations, Apeel Sciences, demonstrated how the company is using food itself to tackle food waste. Focussing on fresh fruit and vegetables, its vision “is to work with nature rather than apart from nature to devise solutions”.
It uses materials that exist in the edible plants, repurposes them and applies them like a skin to the surface of the fresh produce. The materials are recognised in the US as safe substances and suitable for organic production. They help retain moisture and reduce exposure to oxygen. This maintains the quality of the products, such as avocados, asparagus and citrus fruits, and extends their shelf life by up to two times.
The innovation brings benefits to consumers and retailers who are able to keep high quality produce for longer and throw away less, and for producers and distributors who enjoy more time to transport products to market. In certain cases, shipping can be used instead of airfreight, reducing emissions. “It’s not just cost savings, but also a big environmental impactor,” she said.
Watch videos of all the sessions at FFA2019 here >