Thursday, June 1, 2023
HomeFarmlifeFormer professional rugby participant applies sport philosophy to farm

Former professional rugby participant applies sport philosophy to farm

Former Eire and Ulster rugby union participant Simon Finest reveals how classes discovered from a profession in skilled sport are driving ahead the household farm in County Armagh.

He runs 460ha of arable floor and the 60-cow pedigree Aberdeen Angus herd in partnership along with his dad and mom and brother.

Listed below are his 5 guiding ideas.

See additionally: FW Awards 2021 Arable winner – Simon Finest

1. Plan for a sustainable future

The phrase sustainability is utilized in many various guises, however for Simon it’s rooted in ideas of sustaining and enhancing.

“Within the context {of professional} sport, we at all times discuss leaving the jersey in a greater situation than you discovered it. Out of your first sport, that is drilled into you,” he says.

“When utilized to farming, this phrase actually embodies the ethos of our farm – that we don’t inherit this land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our youngsters.

“It’s what my father has carried out and my grandfather earlier than him and his father. To me, that is true sustainability.”

2. Create a imaginative and prescient

“Our imaginative and prescient is the tenet that underpins what we do,” says Simon.

A difficult interval for Ulster when Simon was taking part in led the staff to refocus what their imaginative and prescient was.

“For Ulster, there’s a proud historical past of a loyal following throughout all communities, and this straightforward assertion permits all concerned to speak what we’re about – inspiring the 9 counties by rugby.”

For the arable and beef enterprises at Acton Home Farm, close to Poyntzpass, the imaginative and prescient is to provide high-quality meals components in an moral and sustainable method.

“I make no apologies for having the phrase manufacturing entrance and centre; it’s what we do when it comes to the crops we develop or the meat from our Angus cattle,” Simon says.

“Nevertheless, we’re on a journey to make sure that is carried out in a way that’s in step with our function of long-term sustainability.

“Communication of what we do to the general public, the group, to our prospects and wider stakeholders is absolutely essential as we, as farmers, enter a interval of uncertainty in agriculture, with local weather targets and fundamental fee restructuring.”

3. Know the rating

“They are saying in the event you can’t measure it, you’ll be able to’t handle it, and in skilled sport all the pieces is measured.

“From what you carry, to how briskly you run, to what you’ve had for breakfast – this used to drive me mad at instances however now I’m main a enterprise, I can see why that is the case,” says Simon.

Soil evaluation and conserving an in depth eye on yields and margins, for instance, is essential to enhance efficiency and encourage innovation.

“For me the concentrate on soil well being and enchancment is the important thing basis to making sure environment friendly manufacturing and long-term sustainability. Figuring out the standing and well being of our soils is crucial.

“Every thing we produce is put over the weighbridge and it’s actually essential for me to know what we’ve produced – not solely so we all know if we’ve made any cash or not, however to gauge how profitable we’re with the usage of inputs we’ve used.”

4. Rejoice success

On the rugby pitch, success is well measured and celebrating it’s a large a part of staff sport.

“You knew the place you stood each week in life; did we win or lose on Saturday?

However as gamers, you by no means wish to lose and there may be additionally important momentum constructed on the arrogance that comes from gaining success.”

Profitable the Farmers Weekly 2021 Arable Farmer of the Yr Award gave Simon the prospect to replicate on the successes of his household’s enterprise.

Simon Best with Award

Simon Finest amassing his FW Award © Telling Pictures

He says celebrating success is one thing all farmers ought to attempt to do, even when it’s not at all times straightforward.

“In farming, or certainly most walks of life, realizing what success seems to be like will be far much less clear.

“For me, one of many points of interest of farming is the seasonality and the actual fact you get an actual sense of accomplishment, or sadly typically underachievement, at harvest time.”

5. Proceed to enhance and innovate

Fixed enchancment and new concepts are essential to competing on the highest degree, Simon explains, with a spread of specialist coaches sports activities psychologists and even “visualisation coaches” encouraging a tradition of innovation, collaboration and new concepts inside squads.

Simon has utilized this mindset to the farm. Through the years, there was a shift to precision agriculture, extra crop evaluation to focus on and scale back inputs, and the farm is now collaborating in a European innovation venture to determine a verifiable baseline for complete farm carbon emissions.

“This isn’t simply to assist enhance profitability and reinvestment within the enterprise, but in addition to make sure long-term sustainability of the land that we farm.”

From rugby to farming

Simon Best

Simon Finest © Steffan Hill

Simon Finest made 124 appearances for Ulster between 1999 and 2008, and earned 23 caps for Eire in a four-year spell.

That included appearances at two world cups and securing the nation’s first Triple Crown in 19 years, when Eire beat England, Scotland and Wales within the 2004 season.

His skilled profession got here to a shuddering halt on the 2007 Rugby World Cup, nevertheless, when he suffered a mini stroke.

He was recognized with an irregular heartbeat and introduced his retirement in February 2008.

Simon had studied agriculture at Newcastle College and turned skilled when town’s rugby staff, the Falcons, had been propelled into the Premiership.

Decided to not be remembered merely as a retired rugby participant, Simon threw himself into life at Acton Home Farm when his sporting profession ended.

“I’m very lucky that farming has at all times been a ardour in my life alongside rugby,” he says.

Simon West with sons Jack and Sam

© Colm O’Neill/Inpho/Shutterstock



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