AGRICULTURAL engineering graduate Aled Jones (25) is the third generation to farm at Dolyfelin, an upland farm near Builth Wells, where he combines working full time alongside his parents with his seasonal work as a contract shearer.
The 400 acre beef and sheep holding has about 800 mainly Lleyn cross Cheviot ewes with 200 followers, together with a herd of South Devon beef cattle. In addition, Aled farms his own 50 acre holding just a few miles away, where he keeps around 70 Mules and Texels that are sold as fat lambs at Builth market.
This ambitious young farmer says that his experience, combined with his studies at NPTC Group of Colleges, has made him determined to do all he can to maximise efficiency across all areas of both his parents’ farm and his own small unit, which he hopes one day to expand.
Aled’s local Farming Connect development officer, Nerys Hammond, encouraged him to complete on online personal development plan (PDP) to help him identify his current strengths and focus on any areas which could improve on-farm efficiencies or give him improved streams of income.
Already an experienced shearer, Aled was inspired by the more modern and efficient style of shearing he had witnessed during two working visits to New Zealand. During peak season which is usually mid-May until late September, he shears for eight or nine hours every day either at home or as a contractor, so improving and modernising his technique was high on his wish list.
Early last year, Aled applied for an intensive two-day shearing course run by the British Wool Marketing Board, subsidised by 80% through Farming Connect, which he says gave him the perfect ‘refresher course’.
“The trainer inspired us all through his knowledge and efficiency. He put everything across in a friendly manner and our small group came away with much more confidence in our abilities. We all improved our techniques and learnt how to speed up the processes.”
Aled says that his personal development plan won’t stop now. He’s determined to tap into as many Farming Connect support services as he can in order to help the business reduce costs and achieve greater on-farm efficiencies.
Taking advantage of Farming Connect’s fully-funded soil sampling scheme last spring is already paying dividends with better grass yield and reduced inputs.
Next on his learning curve is a business farm accounts course and he is also intent on having a go at some of the e-learning modules available on the Farming Connect website.
“Undertaking short online modules at home on my laptop, having selected quite a few from the wide range of topics available, is a fantastic way to build my knowledge,” says Aled, who is clearly not going to let any grass grow under his feet!
The next application window for Farming Connect training is from Monday, 5 February to Friday, 2 March 2018. For dates and locations of all forthcoming training courses including shearing training, information about e-learning modules and other Farming Connect services which could support you and your business, visit www.gov.wales/farmingconnnect