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Thorney farmer welcomes students from Asia and Africa

A group of 11 international Masters students from Africa and Asia visited the Fens as part of their agricultural scholarships funded by the Marshal Papworth Fund.

They spent a day with Michael Sly at his 1,750ha Park Farm, at Thorney, near Peterborough, where they focused on the critical role that the use of the latest technology, effective crop rotations, management of the 158 miles of in-field land drains, and incorporation of environmental conservation areas play in managing a successful farm enterprise in the unique Fen area.

The students, who are all approaching the end of their Masters scholarships funded by agricultural education charity Marshal Papworth Fund this year, spent the day with Michael and his team, who took time out of the busy harvest period to host the students on this beneficial study visit.

Michael, who is also chairman of English Mustard Growers Ltd and was the winner of the Farming Champion of the Year at the Farmers Weekly Awards 2016, told the students: “We treat environmental strips as part of our rotation here, with over 50ha of the farm dedicated to conservation and contributing 51 tons of pollen for pollinators on our farm.”

Park Farm also opens its gates each year for the national Open Farm Sunday. Michael said: “We are very proud to have welcomed in excess of 75,000 people to the farm through Open Farm Sunday since its inception in 2006. I would really encourage the Marshal Papworth students to remember the importance of working with the local farming community in their home countries for collaborative projects, whether that’s training sessions, trial plots or community co-operatives; what we have created with our farming neighbours through Open Farm Sunday is testament to what can be achieved when we work together.”

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