Recently I was lucky to photograph PhD students presenting their findings at AHDB Conference. I was impressed, I was inspired....
The first 2 days were the crops students. Although I have harvested potatoes, sat on a combine for hours and worked for a summer with a crop trials company, I do not know much about them, I am a livestock girl. I was impressed. I was impressed by these people, who are dedicated to look at one thing over the course of 3 years, be it a disease, a gene, a cell, interactions between shoots and roots, or the use of technology, for the crop and horticulture industries.
Many of the students relied on farmers to answer questionnaires or to allow the student onto their farm, but what was evident, this could be a hard task. Of many 1000’s of questionnaires sent out, only a few 100 came back, of many doors knocked on, only a few opened. So WHY do some farmers answer the questionnaire and open the door, and others don’t?
These students are finding answers to potentially age-old questions, they are looking to improve the industry, to ensure there are solutions to the increasing burden of producing enough food in a time of disease resistance, high welfare and low labour times.
One speaker, said the best thing to do after the PhD was to go into industry, go and speak to people, pick up the phone, make appointments, answer questions, do site visits, but learn to talk to people, learn to listen to people, then go back and do research, with a better understanding of the person, the industry you are carrying the research out for.
And next time I receive a request to answer a questionnaire, I will fill it it, as it could be the result in better animal welfare, a cure for a current resistance disease or the different in working practices.