Brian Evans - an agriculture and animal science lecturer at Hartpury College is in the final stages of studying for an MSc online. Brian first heard about the MSc in Sustainable and Efficient Food Production, an online MSc, at an animal nutrition conference in Nottingham. He was keen to update his knowledge and the college was keen for him to gain a postgraduate qualification. The content and flexibility that the course provided seemed ideal. Hartpury agreed to fund Brian to take the course and in September 2013 he began studying.
Brian has three children and when he started the course his youngest was only 2 years old. How did he manage to fit studying round home and work? Brian says “The first module was a big step but the team has a really good understanding of the time pressures that distance learners can be under. The flexible structure and excellent support made it possible for me to study at this level while working.”
Coming from a dairy background, Brian is particularly passionate about silage and really enjoyed the Silage Science module. He says: “Looking at the whole process from making, to storing, to feeding, with an eye to reducing waste and spoilage at every stage, really demonstrates how we can put science into practice to increase margins on dairy farms.”
Brian has now completed six modules drawn from both Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities, and is working on his dissertation. For his research project he is working with the College farm to try to determine whether USA methods for measuring the effective NDF (Neutral Detergent Fibre) content of feed are applicable to the UK. He hopes to graduate next year.
Brian feels his students – the next generation of farmers – are really benefitting from his studying. He says: “The cross fertilization of new knowledge gained from the course with my existing knowledge has made my teaching much more rounded, for example, I have started running practical phosphate budgeting sessions to help students to understand the bigger picture of nutrient management”. Brian’s students have also been undertaking assignments looking at the global nature of agriculture by examining how imported feeds can lead to exported environmental problems. Silage is not Brian’s only passion, he also feels strongly about teaching: “Higher education is about opening minds, having debate and passing on skills to the next generation”.
If you are an agricultural lecturer or work in the agrifood sector and would like to gain a postgraduate qualification or just take a module or two to update you knowledge, you might well find what you need at on the AFTP website. Apply now to start in the New Year.
AgriFood Training Partnership
The University of Reading
PO Box 226, Whiteknights
Reading RG6 6AP