Applications have opened for young sheep farmers to win two £2,750 travel bursaries which aim to widen industry knowledge and experience.

The National Sheep Association’s (NSA) Samuel Wharry Memorial Award will support two young people, aged between 21 and 34, in study trips to explore the application of science in sheep production.

Having identified a subject the applicant wants to learn about, they can travel wherever they wish, pick up as much information as possible and then share their findings.

Applications are online and involve a series of questions about the chosen topic and why it’s relevant to the UK sheep sector.

The award is in memory of sheep farmer Samuel Wharry of Carnlough, County Antrim, who was an advocate of applying science and technology on-farm.

Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, said the initiative offered young sheep farmers support to travel and learn more about the sheep sector in other countries.

He said: “After the world of travel being closed off for so long due to the Covid pandemic it is especially pleasing to be able to move forward with the bursaries once again.”

Recipients of the first award, Marie Prebble, a sheep farmer from Kent, and Charlie Beaty, a mixed farmer from Warwickshire, received their bursaries at the beginning of 2019.

Marie chose to travel to France, Norway, Iceland and parts of the UK, using her bursary to investigate best practice at shearing time, both improving animal welfare and wool presentation.

Charlie travelled to New Zealand to investigate grassland management and how improvement and utilisation of permanent pasture can be used to reduce production costs.

Charlie said: “I thoroughly enjoyed being able to see how different farms prioritised different aspects of the businesses and how management styles varied.

“All adopted a grazing strategy that aimed to maintain grass quality, reduce residual grazing and address parasite challenges to get the best out of their land.”

Applications are now open until 12 September, with first interviews due to be held on 3 October.

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