First blog

Russell McKenzie

My blogs will be more detailed over the coming months, but for now I wanted to show how the Nuffield experience begins.

As a group of UK 2014 scholars, we had three full days of speakers and debates in London, including Peter Kendall as well as many other great speakers. Our visit to the House of Commons was followed by an audience with HRH the Duke of Gloucester at the Farmers Club.

This set us all up in good fettle for the long flight to Sydney, with a brief stop in Hong Kong.  A lack of sleep and arriving at lunchtime in Sydney meant most people had to catch up on some rest as soon as we got there!  But Sydney is an amazing city, and was where the whole Nuffield trip gained momentum. The following day we finally got to meet the other scholars from across the globe, Including New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States. As there were so many of us, introductions were kept brief, in small groups of three, based on our own defining moments.

Then it was seven full days at the Nuffield Contemporary Scholars Conference, listening to speakers on the global issues concerning farming. We heard people from the top end of their industry, who, without Nuffield, we would not have met.  We have learnt much about the key drivers in global food production, and although some things may not directly affect the UK, one that is relevant to us all is the importance of succession planning, and this theme recurred throughout the week.

Mid-week we moved to Canberra and were extremely fortunate to be given a tour of Parliament House by the deputy speaker (who also happens to be a Nuffield Scholar), followed by dinner with some of the MPs.  The week flashed by and culminated with two things – dinner at Anzac hall beneath a Lancaster bomber, and the realisation that we can all make a difference in our industry: we are not just farmers but food producers.

UK Nuffield Scholars At Anzac Hall

Nuffield 2014 UK scholars at Anzac Hall.

After our goodbyes I left Canberra for Victoria to get my teeth into my research project. So far I have had three amazing days meeting innovative farmers and learning about how they make no-till work in their climate.

Russ Mc Kenzie With “The Doc ” Alistair Murdoch In Kooloonong

Me with “The Doc” Alistair Murdoch in Kooloonong

I’m just starting my Nuffield investigations, but even the conference has been a truly unique experience. I’m realising that, as farmers, we’re all part of a family that extends all over the world.

Next time I shall be reporting on my research in Victoria and Adelaide.



Russell McKenzie farms 750ha on predominantly heavy clay on the border between Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. He grows seed on contract as well as soft and feed wheat, and his usual rotation is wheat, OSR and spring beans. A Nuffield Scholar, Russ has been researching direct drilling in extreme weather in 2013 and 2014.