A SCHEME is being launched in Dorset to encourage young people to take up a career in agriculture.

The Melplash Agricultural Society, organisers of the Melplash Show at Bridport, is launching the Discover Farming scheme to 'inform, educate and enthuse' young people.

The programme will be showcased at this year's show and also feature at the Hedge Society’s Hedge Laying and Ploughing Match in September, but will run all year round.

Simon and Vicky Holland of Washingpool Farmwill be hosting school visits where children will see ‘up close and personal’ a number of farm activities and animals.

Discover Farming is sponsored by many organisations including the Alice Ellen Cooper Dean Foundation, Mole Valley Farmers Ltd, Dorset County Council, and Bridport Town Council.

The project started ten years ago with a bursary scheme to support students entering or continuing in further education. This scheme has been very successful and last year , 13 awards were made.

Now the society is widening its work to include both primary and secondary school children.

A spokesman for the society said it believes passionately that it is vitally important for the ‘next generation’ to understand the role that farming and agriculture play in the local economy and environment.

"At a time of great technological change, the society wishes to inspire the younger generation to take up careers in this exciting industry, not only in farming but also other rural industries," the spokesman said.

This year's Melplash Show will feature a dedicated Discover Farming area with interactive demonstrations where children of all ages can get hands-on experience of a variety of ‘farm to food’ activities. Those making career choices will be able to drive a simulator tractor or even work a drone of the kind used to inspect crops, and look at the latest apps used in farming. Younger children can be more hands-on including, butter making, breadmaking and juicing apples.

Around the show ground, and flagged by Discover Farming signs there will be numerous other exhibits and demonstrations including, milking, sheep shearing, horseshoeing, cheese making and sausage making all linked by a Discover Farming path. On the route, and placed near points of key agricultural interest, will be a number of story boards about farming which will provide the answers to a competition with great cash prizes for the under 12s. For young people considering a career in Agriculture, there will be the opportunity to meet and discuss further education options with specialists from Kingston Maurward College and with some of the Society’s recent bursary students in the Discover Farming Marquee.

To find out more about the scheme and to contribute ideas contact the Society Secretary on 01308 423337 or secretary@melplashshow.co.uk