The Marshal Papworth Fund, a UK based agriculture-education charity, recently teamed up with G’s at their Sandfields Farms asparagus and spring onion site.
The purpose of the visit was to inspire this year’s 11 scholarship recipients currently studying at Harper Adams University to make use of technology, renewable energy and sustainable farming practices to adapt their own cultivations at home for more successful and sustainable domestic and commercial production, whilst mitigating the effects of climate change.
The group of 11 students – who this year come from Ghana, Malawi, Sri Lanka, Burkina Faso and Kenya – spent the day with G’s Sandfields Farms managing director Derek Wilkinson, and group HR director Beverly Dixon.
Visiting the asparagus fields first, Derek explained the growth cycle and requirements of the crop; the Marshal Papworth students were particularly interested in steps taken to improve soil condition for optimum growth, as well as the lack of irrigation needed.
Focusing on the importance of getting the soil right, Derek explained: “Soil condition and type isn’t something that we will compromise on, especially when growing asparagus; a decision to plant the crop in a badly drained field will result in losing the crop after five or six years, when the crowns should last for 10.”
In the spring onion fields, students challenged Derek on the details of developing a perfect seed bed, the drilling process, weed control, pest and disease pressure and how G’s drives efficiencies through their vegetable business.
Derek, who is also responsible for G’s West Africa Farms in Senegal, which employs up to 1,000 local Senegalese workers on crops including spring onions for the UK winter season, continued: “We have been hugely impressed by the standard of the Marshal Papworth students we have met today – their eye for the technical detail in vegetable production and the impact this has on yield and profitability is to be applauded and I wish them the best of luck on returning to their home communities at the end of their 10 week scholarship and putting some of this new knowledge into practice.”
The 11 students are currently studying at Harper Adams University, on the Marshal Papworth 10 week short course scholarship.
Caption; The group of 11 students – who this year come from Ghana, Malawi, Sri Lanka, Burkina Faso and Kenya – spent the day with G’s Sandfields Farms managing director Derek Wilkinson, and group HR director Beverly Dixon.