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DECEMBER 2019
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
Education
15
addressing the problems and opportunities of the area.
Also, under the rural development theme, Fergal Bradley
presented his fi ndings on mental health and wellbeing of
young farmers in the North West and the important role
that Macra na Feirme and Teagasc play in reducing rural
isolation and helping young farmers to cope with stress.
Student placements
This year, three students had placements with the
Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB)
in the UK with Hugh Larkin presenting his fi ndings on why
UK livestock farmers are reluctant to soil test; Seadhna
Crowley on the uptake of herd genetic reports by UK
dairy farmers; and Danny Fanning on how to improve the
knowledge exchange process for farmers who adopt multi-
species grasslands. Four senior sta from AHDB attended
the conference strengthening linkages between AHDB,
UCD and Teagasc.
Postgraduate courses
UCD's engagement in postgraduate courses for
agricultural advisors dates back to the late 1960s when
Kellog Foundation funding and links to the Land Grant
Colleges in the USA helped develop initial programmes
on communication and extension methodology. Over
the past decade there has been a resurgence in interest
in agricultural knowledge and innovation systems as we
grapple with challenges of farm incomes, climate change
and sustainable development and a lot of this interest
is directed to the skills and competencies required by
agricultural advisors so that they are able to facilitate
and support farmer learning and innovation. With
more emphasis on participatory methods of knowledge
exchange, the farm advisor has to be able to support peer
to peer learning among farmers as well as take on the role
of knowledge broker.
UCD and Teagasc started the Masters in Agricultural
Innovation Support in 2010 as a research masters
programme for young Agricultural Science graduates
with interest and ambition to work in advisory and
education roles. The students complete a placement
within an advisory o ce or agricultural college while
researching issues that have been identifi ed by advisory
and education sta ranging from the e ectiveness of
di erent advisory or education approaches to the barriers
and constraints facing adoption of di erent innovations. A
two-year taught Masters programme was added in 2015
whereby students would also gain fi rst hand exposure and
experience of advisory and educational services within
a mentored environment. The curriculum is based on a
model of refl ective practice where student assignments are
based on real life experiences relating to the professional
environment. They learn quickly how complex and
unpredictable the professional work environment can be
and the importance of developing their competence to
build relationships of trust with clients as well as having
the technical expertise. Through the Walsh Fellowship
programme, up to 20 students are sponsored on these
programmes each year.
Programme Coordinator, Dr Monica Gorman, explains that
many graduates have successfully gone onto careers in
Teagasc with others working in agri-business, agricultural
media and related areas. Each year an increasing number
of graduates are applying for the di erent options within
the UCD Masters in Agricultural Extension and Innovation.
Self-funded students can take the programme as a full-
time one-year programme while a part-time distance
option is also available to graduates who are working
directly with farmers in related areas such as agricultural
consulting, technical sales or rural development. Since
2018, Macra Agricultural Skillnet have provided fi nancial
support for this programme to graduates in the sector who
want to upskill.
With an attendance of over 190, the annual KT Conference
has become an established date in the diary for anyone
interested in agricultural advisory and education.