NI Nuffield Scholars’ conference

Newtownstewart Mart
Newtownstewart Mart

Northern Ireland Nuffield Scholars Association are holding an evening conference in The Conference Hall, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Large Park, Hillsborough, on September 11.

Six Nuffield Scholars will present on the night.

Jonathan Birnie – Jonathan currently works an independent consultant. Formerly he worked as Head of Agriculture for Dunbia. He has spent my whole career associated with the livestock sector, having worked on farms, in research, at Sainsbury’s and at Dunbia. Jonathan’s Nuffield topic will be “Facilitating change within the red meat chain through the dissemination of new technology, enhanced cooperation and mutual sustainability”.

Trevor Alcorn – Trevor is a dairy farmer’s son from outside Omagh. He lives on the family farm, with his wife Barbara and daughter Lucy. The farm which consists of 115 hectares of grassland stocked with a dairy herd of 200 Holstein Friesian cows plus young stock and an Aberdeen Angus beef enterprise. After completing an HND in Agriculture at Greenmount College, Trevor went on to complete a degree in Agriculture at Queens University.

Trevor is currently employed by College of Agriculture Food & Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) as a Dairying Development Adviser. Trevor’s Nuffield topic will be “Does the family dairy farm have a future?”

Debbie McConnell – Debbie is a farmer’s daughter from Omagh. After studying Geography at Durham University, she went on to complete a PhD with the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute and Queen’s University Belfast.

Following this, she spent a year working on the family farm before hopping back across the Irish Sea to Warwickshire to join AHDB Dairy, where she worked as a research and development manager, overseeing the grassland, forage and soils research programme. She is currently working as a dairy research scientist in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute at Hillsborough. Debbie’s Nuffield topic will be “Automating the dairy farmer: exploiting the potential of precision technology on dairy farms”.

Jude McCann – For the last seven years Jude has worked as Chief Executive for Rural Support in Northern Ireland. Established as a charity in 2002, Rural Support is a regional charity providing support to farmers and farm families across the province.

Following his studies in Northern Ireland he lived and worked in New Zealand for seven years and in 2008, completed his PhD through Queen’s University Belfast examining ‘Rural Restructuring and Information Systems’.

After completing this research, he worked in international aid and development and then returned to Northern Ireland to work on a social justice programme with the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland. Jude’s Nuffield topic is “Securing farmers’ resilience in a changing world”.

Lorcan Allen - Lorcan is from Moate, Co Westmeath, where he grew up on a small suckler farm enterprise. While still spending his weekends at home farming, Lorcan is primarily employed with the Irish Farmers Journal as an agribusiness, commodities and markets reporter.

Lorcan’s study topic was “A licence to farm – how Irish agriculture can maintain its social licence to operate.”

His report examines the higher standards being set by modern consumers and how it impacts the farmers licence to operate.

Roberta McDonald - Roberta is currently Sustainable Solutions Lead at Devenish Nutrition having previously worked as sustainability manager with Aurivo Co-op. After graduating from

UCD, she completed a PhD from UCD and Teagasc Moorepark Co. Cork Ireland on the development of New Entrant dairy farms and farmers.

She is a Council member of the Agricultural Science Association. Roberta’s study topic will be “Innovative Disruption of Farmer Development Programmes.”

2019 scholar Barry O’Boyle will present his experiences of the Nuffield global focus tour. Juggling a full-time farm he also managed to find time for further education part-time.

Barry’s Nufield topic wil be “Can farm subsidies be revolutionised after Brexit to drive Innovation?”