BY TOMMY MOYLES
AOIFE Feeney, a farm sustainability manager with the Carbery Group, has been awarded a prestigious Nuffield Ireland farming scholarship.
As part of their study topic, a Nuffield Ireland scholar is expected to conduct 10 weeks of international travel visiting farmers, agri businesses, researchers and agricultural policy makers. The programme runs over two years.
Speaking to The Southern Star Aoife said a Nuffield Ireland scholar and Carbery supplier Maire McCarthy planted the seed in her head to apply.
‘Initially, I thought I wasn’t at that level. But she persisted and sent me the application again a couple of weeks out from the deadline, and I felt the timing was right. I had just completed my masters in agricultural extension and innovation in UCD and it was coming up to my father’s anniversary and I felt what’s meant to be won’t pass me. Dad and Granny used always say that, so I said I’d apply and see what happens.’
After making it through a series of two interviews, Aoife was informed of her success by Nuffield Ireland chair, Karen Brosnan.
Aoife is further enhancing her knowledge when it comes to dealing with water quality issues and improving farmer engagement. ‘My master’s thesis was looking at the efficacy of the ASSAP model as a tool to influence dairy farmers to improve water quality and that was concentrated on farmers in West Cork that I have worked with. The study was interesting and it was great to see the positive outcome. I thought it would be nice to explore that a little bit further, so I said I’d stick with a similar topic for Nuffield. My study topic is “Identifying key methods to influence behaviour change at farm level to improve water quality”.’
The scholarship is conducted over a two-year period and generally begins with the Contemporary Scholars’ Conference. This is where scholars from all over the world congregate for an intense week of discussion and debate around global agriculture and the challenges and opportunities it encounters.
Depending on how the situation regarding Covid plays out, Aoife’s initial plan is to visit Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada as part of her studies.
The Co Longford native has been based in West Cork since January 2016 after graduating from UCD. She initially worked in the Farm Relief Services and Teagasc before taking on her current role with Carbery Group working with their suppliers to help improve water quality.