Learning is easy when you find something you can do at your own pace and in your own time – that's the view of Anglesey farmer Dorian Roberts on Farming Connect’s fully-funded online learning modules.

Just a few months down the line, he’s reaping the financial rewards of managing liverfluke more effectively, he’s adopted new systems of controlling thistles and rush which have resulted in better grassland and he’s also far more aware of farm safety.

Dorian and his wife Sera had been looking forward to retiring from their respective careers within the police force, knowing that they could devote more time to increasing the size of their mixed flock of pedigree Dorset and cross breed commercial ewes and lambs at Meillionen in Llangefni.

But Dorian’s confidence in his retirement plan to farm full time wavered when he realised that although he didn’t want to greatly increase the scale of the business, he wasn’t up to speed with some of the newer systems that he was reading about in the farming press that could help make the farm more efficient.

“Having always worked off the farm, I hadn’t checked out any more efficient systems, so I was conscious that we may not be getting the best returns from the land or the flock.”

As an avid reader of farming magazines, Dorian realised that there were areas he needed to learn to achieve optimum results on the farm, which is when he turned to Farming Connect.

“I started to attend Farming Connect events in my area where not only did I learn a lot but I met my local development officer who then visited the farm and encouraged me to attend a Farming Connect soils and grassland clinic, where soil samples were taken from the farm and analysed.

“The results showed me that we could improve the quality of our grassland through nutrient management planning, which has saved me money and is also benefiting the health and wellbeing of the flock.”

Dorian decided to complete a Farming Connect personal development plan (PDP) which helped him prioritise the areas of knowledge he wanted to improve.

“I’ve never thought I was brilliant at computers, but I found it easy to go through the necessary log-in procedures and the PDP was an excellent way of identifying what training would be most beneficial for me and the business.”

Dorian decided that Farming Connect’s online interactive training modules, delivered in short 15-20minute lessons on his computer, would be just what he needed to assess his own knowledge at a time and pace that fitted round life on the farm.

He first completed an e-learning liver fluke management module and says he is now making a better job of drenching the flock, using the right treatment at the right time which will save him money long term.

Next, he worked his way through modules on thistle control, rush control and farm health and safety, all of which resulted in him fine tuning day-to-day systems and practices.

“I feel that one of the big advantages of e-learning is that the modules are easy to follow, pitched at good level and each one gives you the chance to assess what you know through a short quiz.

“There’s no pressure, you progress at your own speed and if you feel you could do better, you can go through it again. Now that I feel I know the basics, I’ve got the confidence to put into practice what I have learned and to discuss my plans with other farmers.”

Farming Connect’s e-learning modules are broadly categorised under headings of livestock health and welfare; forages and feeds; forestry and horticulture and business management. Each course completed will be automatically added to your personal continuous professional development (CPD) record. This record of activity is completed for you and can be accessed on the Business Wales BOSS website.

To access e-learning you will need to be registered with Farming Connect. You will then need to log in and register onto the BOSS website with the same email address that you registered with Farming Connect. businesswales.gov.wales/boss

You will find a list of all available interactives on the BOSS website alongside your personal development plan, the funding application form and your individual CPD record. For a taste of what to expect, try out Farming Connect’s e-learning taster on high sugar grasses by visiting gov.wales/farmingconnect