Farmer Focus Arable: Nick Padwick focuses on training farm students

The sun continues to shine and we are all starting to look forward to harvest and what that might bring: Hopefully, high yields and higher prices for all.

My mind starts thinking of the people who will be helping us this summer. We have three full-time craftsmen on the estate, so we do need the help of four of five others to make sure all the work is done in a timely fashion. Therefore, we rely quite heavily on student or harvest workers.

Concerning the recent figures on farm safety by the Health and Safety Executive published in Farmers Weekly, I don’t think we should be complacent about training for these guys properly. They may be agricultural students or have farms at home, but they still need help and training as well as guidance from our experienced farmworkers.

My own experience of being a student, in the dim and distant past, was one of being told “there’s the tractor, go and get on with it”. Then when a mistake was made a good telling off was given just to knock the confidence a bit more.

I think we need to be more positive and proactive when we hire students to work for us. Everyone makes mistakes and we all need to take responsibility for showing and guiding these young people into our industry if we want to encourage them.

This year sees our eighth student recruitment year at The Co-operative Farms. We bring all our harvest students for a week’s training on Health and Safety, manual handling, emergency first aid, environmental awareness, tractor driving and safety, as well as telehandler training. This will give them a good grounding before they go to the other Co-operative Farms around the country and, hopefully, ensure a safe, enjoyable and rewarding harvest.

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