Nuffield Ireland awards six scholarships for 2023

Nuffield Ireland six 2023 Scholars

Study topics to include grassland management on dairy farms; farm diversification; change management and Irish potato and vegetable growing

Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust Ireland has announced the details of six individuals who will complete Nuffield scholarships in 2023. The scholars – Bryan Daniels, Margaret Edgill, David Fennelly, Thomas Murray, Liagh Whelehan and Gillian Willis – will focus on a range of study topics from grassland management to farm diversification to potato and vegetable growing strategies. The objective of the Irish Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust is to identify future leaders of Irish Agriculture and facilitate their ambition to bring about meaningful change for the benefit of their community.

Following a two-stage interview process, the selection panel chose the six candidates to receive this award. Karen Brosnan, Chair of Nuffield Ireland said “We are pleased to announce that the recipients of our 2023 scholarship include a diverse group of individuals spanning many different disciplines within the Irish agri-food industry. From dairy farmers, to business strategists, agronomists to organic farmers – we are excited to have such a broad range of study topics in the pipeline for 2023.”

The new scholars for 2023 are:

Bryan Daniels, Dairy Farmer, Kilkenny
Bryan Daniels, a dairy farmer from outside Kilmoganny, County Kilkenny, will focus on identifying the restrictions and solutions to incorporating clover on Irish grassland farms as part of his Nuffield Scholarship. A graduate of Kildalton Agricultural College, Bryan returned home to farm in 1999 where he converted the dairy and beef farm to a fully dairy enterprise. Bryan has received several accolades in the last 20 years including Teagasc Student of the Year, 2001; FBD Young Farmer of the Year, 2007; and Teagasc Overall & Sustainable Farming Grassland Farmer of the Year, 2019.

Margaret Edgill, Organic Farmer & Artisan Food Producer, Co. Offaly
Margaret Edgill is an organic farmer, artisan food producer and grower in Daingean, Co. Offaly. As part of her Nuffield Scholarship, Margaret will look to develop a blueprint for farm diversification with a specific focus on the agri-food tourism sector. Margaret is a graduate from UCD Michael Smurfit School of Business with a MBs specialising in Tourism. Since her return to the family farm in 2012 after a career in the Arts & Event Management sector spanning 13 years, she has been pioneering in her capacity to innovate. Margaret’s own farm diversification strategy has been centred on connecting food & farming harmoniously.

David Fennelly, Dairy Farmer, Laois
David Fennelly from Emo in County Laois is a full-time dairy farmer in partnership with his parents. As part of his Nuffield Scholarship, David will explore alternative, swards, inputs, and grazing strategies, which can provide solutions at the root cause of challenges facing pasture-based dairy farms. David’s farm has a strong focus on reducing environmental impact and it is also a demonstration farm for the Signpost programme, which aims to showcase science-based technologies to reduce Irish agricultural emissions. David is a 2020 graduate of University College Dublin with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in Dairy Business. As a member of a discussion group, David also has an active role in local Macra na Feirme and GAA clubs.

Thomas Murray, Agronomist, Offaly
Thomas Murray from Banagher County Offaly is an Agronomist with O’Shea Farms in County Kilkenny. As part of his Nuffield Scholarship, Thomas will investigate decision-making tools for the future of potato and vegetable production in Ireland. Thomas graduated from Waterford Institute of Technology with a Bachelors of Agricultural Science in 2016 and completed a Diploma in Leadership for the Agri-Food sector in 2021 from UCC. Thomas currently advises and manages Potato and Carrot growers on land selection, seed procurement, agronomy, and storage management. Thomas plans to travel to the USA, Canada, Northern Europe, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand.

Liagh Whelehan, Horticulturalist, Wexford
Liagh grew up on a dairy farm in Laois, later moving to a dry stock farm in Wexford. She spent her formative years outdoors, in the fields, woods, or vegetable gardening, developing a deep and lasting passion for the natural world. As part of her Nuffield Scholarship. Liagh will investigate methods of improving efficiency and sustainability in plant propagation in controlled environments. Liagh holds a BSc and an MSc in Business Management from UCD. Her studies gave her a grounding in environmental issues and biology, but also taught her the realities of operating in a commercial world. Horticulture was an obvious career choice, as growing plants has been a passion since childhood, and she currently works as a grower and assistant production manager in a bedding and pot plant nursery in North County Wexford.

Gillian Willis, Food Business Project Manager, Carlow
Gillian Willis is from a sheep, beef and tillage farm in Ballon, Co. Carlow and is currently a Project Manager at Bord Bia. As part of her Nuffield Scholarship, Gillian will explore how farms can implement changes to secure future farm viability as the sector faces increasing challenges in terms of economic sustainability and climate change. Gillian studied Food & Agri-Business Management at UCD and completed an MSc in Food Business Strategy at the Michael Smurfit Business School, UCD. She started her career with Burger King Corporate as a graduate in Madrid in 2015 before taking on roles in HR, Project Management and R and D based in Switzerland. Gillian joined Bord Bia in 2018 as Small Business Development Manager and is currently in a project management role.