Henriette Keuffel

“I Found My Calling
in Agriculture”

Master student Henriette Keuffel: "I found my calling in agriculture"
Master student Henriette Keuffel: "I found my calling in agriculture"
Henriette Keuffel aims for a career in the agricultural sector. The Master’s degree student speaks about her passion for farming and explains why she wants to share this commitment with the public.

Farming always fascinated me. I grew up on a farm in Germany, so I’ve always been a country girl surrounded by cows, pigs, horses and crops. However, during my teenage years, I lost sight of farming and agriculture. But during my Business Administration studies a few years ago, I interned on a dairy farm in New Zealand, and all my childhood memories about life on the farm came back. Though it was a tough job – getting up at three o’ clock in the morning for milking, for example – I enjoyed working with the animals as well as being on the tractor again. I enjoyed the diversity of the job so much and the closeness to nature.

Farming always fascinated me. I grew up on a farm in Germany, so I’ve always been a country girl surrounded by cows, pigs, horses and crops. However, during my teenage years, I lost sight of farming and agriculture. But during my Business Administration studies a few years ago, I interned on a dairy farm in New Zealand, and all my childhood memories about life on the farm came back. Though it was a tough job – getting up at three o’ clock in the morning for milking, for example – I enjoyed working with the animals as well as being on the tractor again. I enjoyed the diversity of the job so much and the closeness to nature.

As a result, after my Bachelor studies in the field of economics, I decided to pursue an Agribusiness master’s degree in Stuttgart-Hohenheim, Germany. Both economic and agricultural topics are covered during the program. From my point of view, this is a great combination of subjects: Agricultural understanding, on the one hand side, is necessary for us to understand farmers’ needs, while economics is also necessary to make our businesses function. Based on my academic education, I was able to increase my overall awareness and develop skills in certain interests, such as taxation and controlling. I can't farm properly if I don't know how to keep my books.

Master student Henriette Keuffel

Agriculture is one of the most modern sectors in the world.

Henriette Keuffel, a Master's degree student at the University of Hohenheim, Germany, has found her calling in agriculture – and will find many opportunities. 

My university courses also let me gain academic knowledge in the field of precision farming, for example, which has so much practical relevance. We regularly visit farms to learn how new applications are performing. We might look at yield and application maps for crops that make farming not only ‘smarter,’ but also contemporary. Agriculture is one of the most digitized business sectors of our age. It’s so impressive how these rapidly evolving digital farming tools can assist us farmers on our fields, making our work a lot better than in the early days. For example, field sensors assist us to determine the required amount of fertilizer and crop protection for each field section based on plants’ needs – saving us resources and money.

These insights also help me during my student job at a multinational enterprise producing agricultural and construction equipment. I'm working in the department for precision solutions. Agriculture faces a megatrend of digitization. Even though we’re dealing with one of the oldest and most fundamental sciences on Earth, we’re also developing cutting-edge technologies, such as digital farming technologies. These developments can contribute to feeding up to ten billion people by 2050. So within the agricultural community, we need an open, innovation-driven mindset to also apply these technologies.

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New Farming Forces Needed - Young Talents in Agriculture
New Farming Forces Needed
Young Talents in Agriculture

Agriculture needs young talents

And we need more young people to come to agriculture with this pioneering spirit. I met so many inspiring young people with great ideas in Canberra, Australia, during the 2015 Youth Ag Summit – a networking experience for a lifetime. This encounter was really intense. Hundred young people from 33 nations shared their interests, their concerns but also their passion for agriculture. We all came from different backgrounds and nations, but we all aimed to find solutions to feed a growing world. Sometimes it only takes a new perspective on your issues from somebody else to realize what you are able to do in your environment to get things going again. This experience back in Australia enhanced my wish to strive towards innovation with other passionate people in the agricultural sector.

Supporting dialogue with the public

Truly inspired by this experience – in addition to my studies and work – I now voluntarily work for diverse initiatives such as the Young Farmers’ Forum in Germany as an agricultural advocate and answer consumers’ questions about modern agriculture. I think a fair and square dialogue with the public is key to tackle prejudices such as fear about crop protection products. Yet it’s not about convincing people but rather gaining people’s understanding about good contemporary agricultural practices. It doesn't matter if you’re a businessperson living in the city or if you're a farmer living in the countryside; we all want to eat safely and also sustainably, with future generations in mind. Farmers make this possible.

Agriculture is completely different than many people think. I’d like them to understand it's not this old-fashioned, romantic idea of someone keeping two sheep and a couple of chicks. Agriculture is one of the most modern sectors in the world. From my point of view, the future career perspectives for university graduates like me are so broad. I’m not too sure, where my path will lead me – becoming a consultant, a product manager or having my own farm. But one thing I know for sure: I never want to lose proximity to practical farming because that’s where I found my true calling.

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