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Steven Campbell – CAFRE Alumni

Steven Campbell from Bellaghy, Co. Londonderry a former CAFRE, Greenmount Campus student, took some time out of his busy schedule to tell us about his education, career, and passion for agriculture.  

Why did you decide to study at CAFRE? 

I have always had a passion for agriculture and agricultural engineering so studying at CAFRE was an obvious choice for me. I commenced a National Diploma in Agricultural Mechanisation at Greenmount Campus in 2001. This course provided me with a good solid understanding of agriculture and agricultural mechanisation. I was attracted to the course because it had a good mix of classroom and practical work. The Greenmount Farms provided an excellent practical learning resource enabling me to ‘learn by doing’. I gained invaluable skills and experience, enabling me to carry out the majority of repair works across the farm business by myself. 

What was your first job after graduating?  

After completing the National Diploma in 2003, I spent over a year working as an engineer at Grampian Country Foods, Preston. This was an excellent experience as it taught me the importance of working in a team and broadened my knowledge further.  

Tell us a little about your current job? 

I am currently responsible for the day to day running of my home farm on the outskirts of Bellaghy, Co Londonderry. I farm 460 acres where the majority of land area is improved/semi improved grassland. In addition to this there are areas of species rich grassland on the shores of Lough Beg. This conservation area is managed solely by grazing and cutting. I also grow crops for a local Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant. The livestock enterprise consists of 80 autumn calving suckler cows all calving within a 9 week period. In the future it is my intention to introduce synchronisation and sexed semen AI in order to improve herd genetics and ensure calving is completed in as short time as possible. High quality grass silage is required so grassland management is key throughout the year. Each year I aim to reseed up to 30-40 acres.  

Have you undertaken further training since leaving CAFRE? 

With continual changes in technology it is important that I continue to attend as many training courses as possible. Since leaving Greenmount I have attended CAFRE led Farm Nutrient Management courses and a Rush Management Course at Greenmount Hill Farm which was excellent as it provided me with a good understanding of how to deal with rushes on marginal land. I am a member of a suckler Business Development Group which allows me to meet other suckler producers and more importantly to discuss key issues. Meeting the others in the group who share the same interest as myself is a great learning and networking opportunity. I have attended CAFRE led Farm Innovation Visits which have been invaluable and as result I have developed new sucker breeding contacts. I am looking forward to attending Technology Demonstration Farms Fertility farm visits to learn more about advances in technology. It is my intention to double my suckler cow numbers in the future and I hope the advances in technology will assist with this. I really value the continuous support that CAFRE has provided me with. 

Would you recommend studying at CAFRE? 

I would highly recommend studying at CAFRE to anyone with the interest in agriculture. I had a very positive experience and the practical and theory elements of the course are very beneficial in the day-to-day management of my farm. With the proliferation of technology making agriculture such a progressive and fast paced industry, there is always a need for well trained staff with up-to-date skills.