28 Jun 2018, 08:50 AM
AHDB Pork Blog
After eight months on secondment with the Pork Knowledge Exchange (KE) team, I’m pleased to say that I’ve taken the position permanently. It’s been a really interesting time, meeting producers and allied industry and, having not been from a pig farming background (I was brought up on a beef farm in Yorkshire), I’ve learnt a large amount about the sector and the challenges and opportunities it faces.
One of my key mantras has been to keep things simple and do fewer things better. The team has really responded and we have a number of projects gathering momentum to help producers tackle key challenges. Gilt Watch, for example, our work involving over 30 producers across England, aims to unearth the reasons why many herds have poor gilt retention rates – and find solutions that we can share across the industry.
We’ve also recruited a couple of new people into the team. One of these is Ben Williams who joined back in April as Knowledge Transfer Senior Manager. Ben has come through a career in education working in schools and colleges, all with an agricultural angle and also enjoys creating his own processed pork products. He has a real enthusiasm for the sector and a drive to support producers improve productivity and take up new ideas and technologies.
What’s the difference between Knowledge Exchange and Knowledge Transfer you might ask? Well the team has two parts to it. Kate Mellor, Knowledge Exchange Senior Manager looks after the field team; these are the guys who are on the ground working closely with producers in their regions day-to-day, running training programmes, pig clubs, technical events and Strategic Farms. This type of facilitated farmer-to-farmer learning is at the heart of AHDB’s approach to knowledge exchange. Luchia Gregson is our new KE Officer, who comes to us from Harper Adams and more recently JSR. This is a new national role, working alongside the KE managers on key issues such as antibiotic use, where Luchia will be helping producers get the most out of the new benchmarking feature on eMB, which shows how their antibiotic use compares to anonymised figures from the same category of pig unit.
Ben’s KT team, meanwhile, plays a key role in managing our pig sector PhDs, the EU PiG initiative and the trials and innovation programme. They take the findings from these programmes and translate new insight into helpful tools and technical materials to share with producers and also with important industry partners such as vets, nutritionists and consultants who can help put new knowledge to practical use. We are only a small team and I see working in partnership both in the UK and across the EU as key to extending our reach and influence, never more so with BREXIT coming ever nearer. We need to be there to support the industry and I’m proud to be leading the team at this time.
By AHDB Pork at 28 Jun 2018, 08:50 AM