World-leading livestock scientist honoured by SRUC

An Edinburgh-based scientist who – in the words of Bill Gates – has helped turn the city into “a world capital for livestock health and genetics”, has received an honorary fellowship from SRUC.

Prof David Hume, former Director of The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, has been recognised for his support in bringing together SRUC’s animal scientists with the expertise at Roslin – birthplace of Dolly the Sheep – to create a world-leading research hub.

Prof Hume received the honour at the SRUC winter graduation ceremony at the University of Glasgow’s Bute Hall on Friday 3 November. 

College Principal Professor Wayne Powell said: “David’s drive and energy, combined with similar attributes in key SRUC, Moredun and University staff, has allowed Edinburgh to become a world-leading hub for research in animal biosciences and associated agricultural systems.

“This is encapsulated in the Easter Bush Research Consortium (EBRC) and proved its worth in 2014 when the joint application by SRUC and the University of Edinburgh to the UK’s Research Excellence Framework exercise was ranked top in research power.”

Previously Director of the ARC Special Centre for Functional and Applied Genomics at the Institute for Molecular BioScience at the University of Queensland, proud Australian Prof Hume FRSE, FSB, FMedSci became Director at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute in 2007.  He will return to Australia to take up a new position in Brisbane in 2018, but will retain an honorary professorship and many ongoing collaborations in Edinburgh. 

He is a global leader in his field of genome sciences, with a particular focus on the function of macrophages, specialised cells of the immune system involved in infection, inflammatory disease and cancer.

Wayne Powell added: “Prof Hume’s research studies the genomics of immune response in a range of species including chicken, sheep and pigs. These studies and those of others he directs complement the more applied work in animal breeding and genetics at SRUC.

“It is part of the science which underpins the procedures SRUC applies to its animal breeding programmes and associated services. Increasingly, tools like this are emerging in molecular biology that can be applied to the grand challenges facing agriculture worldwide.”

Outwith the UK, the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health, an SRUC collaboration with International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, and The Roslin Institute owes much to Prof Hume who, with others such as Andy Peters, successfully negotiated £10 million of funding from the Gates foundation and a further £4m from the Department for International Development.  

Prof Hume was also a leading figure in the creation of the UK Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), also involving SRUC and Roslin as major partners, which attracted around £20m of additional capital investment to the Easter Bush campus and in the creation of the new £30m Roslin Innovation Centre.

Prof Powell said: “As David steps down from his Directorships, it is a good time for SRUC to recognise his contribution through this award. However, development continues apace with David continuing to play a key role. This award is therefore as much to support on-going collaboration with SRUC as it is to recognise past success.”

Prof Hume said: “I am very proud to receive this recognition from my friends and colleagues at SRUC.”  In his address, Prof Hume quoted George Bernard Shaw – and John F. Kennedy – in encouraging graduates to embrace change and to ask “Why” and also “Why not”. 

SRUC’s autumn graduation ceremony also saw a professorship of rural resource economics conferred in absentia on researcher Andrew Barnes, while Cesar Revoredo-Giha was conferred with a readership in food supply chain economics. Phil Watkin, based at the College’s Elmwood campus in Fife, received the SRUC Award for Excellence in Teaching.

SRUC graduates on course for great things

A commis chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant, a national park ranger at Hadrian’s Wall and a greenkeeper at a Ryder Cup golf course are just some of the exciting roles landed by students from SRUC.

Nearly 200 HNC and HND students attended the college’s winter graduation ceremony at the University of Glasgow’s Bute Hall, where Professor David Hume – former Director of The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh – was honoured with an SRUC fellowship.

Among those graduating were 20-year-old Euan Welsh from Cupar, who recently started work at the world-renowned Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles after completing his Higher National Diploma (HND) in Professional Cookery at SRUC’s Elmwood campus in Fife.

Speaking about working at the only restaurant in Scotland to hold two Michelin stars, Euan said: “I would not be here if it wasn’t for SRUC. It wasn’t just the skills I learned, which were really important, but it was character building and helped me develop on a personal level to give me the confidence to work in a restaurant like this.”

Meanwhile Jason Trinder, an SRUC distance learning student who has achieved a Higher National Certificate in Countryside and Environmental Management, took an unusual route into his job as a national park ranger.

Now based at Northumberland National Park Authority’s new National Landscape Discovery Centre, The Sill near Hadrian’s Wall at Hexham, the 46-year-old gave up a 20-year career in IT to embrace his love of the great outdoors.

He said: “The SRUC course was invaluable in giving me the theoretical knowledge behind countryside management and I wouldn’t have got the job without it. The fact it was a distance learning course allowed me to fit in volunteering work with the National Trust before I started work as a park ranger. A lot of people thought I was mad giving up a well-paid job in IT but now I’m doing what I love and I wouldn’t dream of changing it.”

Another student Adam Black, who graduated with a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Golf Course Management, recently completed a six-month work placement at Le Golf National, near Paris – host of The Ryder Cup 2018. The 19-year-old from Forfar is now part of the greenkeeping team at Golfclub Fleesensee in Germany. 

In his address to graduands on Friday 3 November, Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive of SRUC, said: “Your lecturers, parents, families and friends are very proud of your achievements. It is however most important that each of you takes the time to recognise your own success and have the confidence to go forward and make a difference in the world.”

SRUC’s winter graduation ceremony also saw a professorship of rural resource economics conferred in absentia to researcher Andrew Barnes, while Cesar Revoredo-Giha was conferred with a readership in food supply chain economics. Phil Watkin, based at the College’s Elmwood campus in Fife, received the SRUC Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Also taking part in the graduation ceremony were 24 veterinary nursing students, who in addition to graduating from SRUC, stood before Dr Niall Connell, Vice Chairman of the Veterinary Nursing Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, to make their professional declaration.

Farm safety training rolled out to tackle Scotland’s farm accident death toll

SRUC has been working with the Farm Safety Foundation to help raise awareness of the risks and hazards farmers face in the workplace on a daily basis.

Farming continues to be one of the most hazardous occupations in the UK however award-winning charity, the Farm Safety Foundation has been working closely with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) to encourage students studying land-based and agricultural courses in Scotland to think about safety in the hope that the number of accidents, whether major or minor, decrease and lives are saved.

The Introduction to Farm Safety course, run by the Farm Safety Foundation, aims to raise awareness of the risks and hazards farmers face every day in the workplace and challenge and change the attitudes to risk taking so that the next generation of farmers will take good behaviours into the industry.

Last year there were five fatal accidents in Scotland and many more accidents caused serious and life-changing injuries.

The Farm Safety Foundation worked with lecturers at SRUC to tailor their unique course to meet their students’ needs and recreated four CSI-style farm accident scenes.

Small groups of students spent approximately 20 minutes at each scenario, which were set up at the college’s farm location to provide a realistic setting. This approach enabled students to work out what may have happened at each “accident scene”, decide what immediate action should be taken, contemplate First Aid implications and explore what measures should be taken to prevent the accident happening in the future.

The Farm Safety Foundation charity was established by rural insurers NFU Mutual in 2014 to raise awareness of farm safety among young farmers, challenge and change their attitudes towards farming safely and reduce the toll of injuries and fatalities which bring heartbreak and misery to farming families and rural communities every year.

Martin Malone, Manager for NFU Mutual in Scotland, said: “We insure most farmers in Scotland and we’re determined to do all we can to reduce the toll of deaths and serious injuries resulting from farm accidents.

“NFU Mutual set up the Farm Safety Foundation three years ago to deliver practical help – and especially training – to help tomorrow’s generation of farmers and crofters develop a safe working mind set at the beginning of their careers.

“It’s great to see that SRUC have signed up to receive the Farm Safety Foundation’s course. The training programme demonstrates the need to put safety first at all times when working on a farm – and the risks of becoming complacent when working with large machinery and livestock on a daily basis.

“However,  it’s clear from the latest farm accident figures that there’s a lot more work to be done to help farmers of all ages work safely and for this reason we’re calling for other organisations involved with farming to help finance the Farm Safety Foundation  so it can expand its farm safety programme.”

Graeme Ligertwood, Chair of the Education Division Health & Safety Committee at SRUC, said: “Working with the Farm Safety Foundation, we are determined to reduce the number of accidents taking place on Scottish farms by providing practical, hard-hitting training that instils a deep understanding of the need to safe working which will stay with students throughout their careers.

“As technology advances within farming, the risk of accidents can actually increase. While the safety of machinery and equipment has improved, the fact that machines can do so much more can make people complacent.

“It’s fantastic to have an outside organisation like the Farm Safety Foundation come in right at the start of the student journey to help us emphasise the importance the college places on farm safety and for our students to face scenarios they could come across on their own farms when they go home or in their future workplace.”

Stephanie Berkeley, Manager of the Farm Safety Foundation As the farmers of the future, young people with a solid knowledge of safe working practices will have a greater capability to make informed and safe decisions which stands the industry in greater stead.

“For young farmers not in further education, we have also launched a 90-minute farm safety session which can be delivered at young farmer club level. We believe that close partnerships with young farmers clubs and the commitment of forward-thinking colleges like SRUC can make a difference and change attitudes to health and safety in tomorrow’s farming community.”

For more information on the Farm Safety Foundation please visit www.yellowwellies.org

Farm Management Handbook goes digital

38th edition ‘invaluable resource’ amid Brexit uncertainty.

After almost four decades of keeping the agricultural industry up to date with the latest data on crops, livestock and finances, the latest edition of the Farm Management Handbook is now available to download online or as a printed copy.

Thanks to the support of the Scottish Government and the European Union as part of the SRDP Farm Advisory Service (FAS), the online version is free to download, widening access to its contents at a time when uncertainty around Brexit is rife.

Produced by SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the 38th edition of the book is also available in its traditional print format – ideal for keeping a copy in the farm office or even in the tractor.

In response to current needs, the new Handbook contains additional information, including:

• Grassland and forage costs

• Land tenure and land reform

• New entrants

• Diversification 

SAC Consulting has also added a new section for crofters and small farmers to provide enterprise margins and business information tailored to their needs.  Given changes in the details of Rural Aid and Renewable Energy Schemes, updated guidance has also been provided.

Julian Bell, Senior Rural Business Consultant at SAC Consulting, said: “As no other industry is controlled, supported and regulated more heavily by EU regulations and institutions, agriculture is widely held to be the sector most affected by Brexit.” 

“The future for agricultural markets and support has scarcely been less certain in the past half century or more, meaning it’s more important than ever for farmers and managers to be able to understand the state of their current business as well as the opportunities for change and restructuring open to them.”

“The Farm Management Handbook, both online and in print, is an invaluable resource to help with the forward planning of enterprise mix, budgets, business structures and cash flows.” 

To download a copy of the 2017-18 Farm Management Handbook, go to www.fas.scot. To order a print edition (£25 plus postage and packaging), visit www.sruc.ac.uk/fmh or call the Rural Business Unit on 0131 603 7525.

Free workshops to help support food and drink businesses in the West

Published Wednesday, 1st November 2017 in Food and Drink news

Connect Local – Regional Showcasing Scotland

Small and medium sized food and drink businesses in the West can access free support and advice at workshops provided by the Scottish Government’s food and drink advisory service – Connect Local.

The programme of three workshops are taking place in various locations across the west coast and will be delivered by the team of food and drink experts from Connect Local. The workshops can be attended individually or as a series and will cover branding and marketing; supply chain and sales support for those looking to develop their commercial capabilities.

The first workshops, ‘Building the Brand’, take place on 14th (Glasgow City Centre) and 15th (Kilmarnock) November and businesses are being urged to book soon to avoid disappointment.

‘Supply Savvy’ will take place in Paisley (24th January) and Hamilton (25th January), with the final workshop, ‘Selling for Success’, taking place in Glasgow City Centre on 7th February 2018.

Connect Local is working in partnership with industry leadership organisation, Scotland Food & Drink, to provide support for businesses looking to grow their business by attending Scotland Food & Drink’s ‘Showcasing Scotland – WEST’ event on 7th March 2018.

Ceri Ritchie, Project Manager at Connect Local, said:

The team at Connect Local have developed a programme that provides support and advice for small to medium sized food and drink businesses who are looking to develop their commercial capabilities. We are encouraging as many businesses as possible to register for each of the three workshops, which will cover branding, supply chain and sales support in regions across the West.

“The free workshops are a fantastic opportunity for businesses who then go on to attend the Showcasing Scotland – WEST event and will help ensure they are in strong position when meeting with potential buyers.”

Small and medium sized food and drink businesses will have the opportunity to grow their business and showcase their products to buyers from hotels, restaurants, farm shops and delicatessens across the region at Hampden Park, Glasgow on 7th March 2018.

For more information and online registration, visit www.showcasing.scot.

To find out more about the services Connect Local provide, visit www.connectlocal.scot

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