THERE is a record number of young women enrolled on an agriculture course in the Scottish Borders.

Stephanie Crozier is one of them, having grown up on a farm near Hawick, the 16-year-old has known from an early age where her future lay.

Now she is one of 12 female students on the National Certificate (NC) Agriculture at Borders College. There were just six last year.

It's a trend which is being seen on similar courses across the country.

Women make up 46% of the students on agriculture courses run by Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) at campuses across the country - up from 42% in 2020/21.

Stephanie said: "Everyone in my family has been involved in farming to some degree.

"When I was younger I used to help out on my granny and grandpa's farm, before they retired.

"I could never see myself working in an office, I just love being outside too much, and I hope that my future will be in agriculture."

Prior to the pandemic, Borders College struggled to make its rural skills programme viable. Just 10 students enrolled on the NC Agriculture course in 2019/20.

But lecturers are now reporting their highest ever numbers - with almost half of them being teenage girls.

As well as the 25 students who are currently studying NC Agriculture at Borders College, there are a further 18 who are enrolled on the National 5 Modern Agriculture course.

The Newtown St Boswells campus also supports 12 agriculture and mixed farming apprentices.

Mr Johnson added: "I have taught agriculture for years and we often struggled to attract enough for a cohort to make the course worthwhile.

"It is wonderful that we have a record 25 students on the NC course this year - and it's even more wonderful that almost half of them are girls.

"There are jobs out there in agriculture and the industry needs young people to drive it forward."

NFU Scotland has welcomed the upturn in interest in the sector.

Policy assistant Lucy McGillivray said: "It's fantastic the courses have high enrolment figures, as it reflects the passion young people have for agriculture and their desire to learn more.

"I took a slightly different route into agriculture, where I studied law and management as my degree, but I am now studying a postgraduate diploma in Agricultural Professional Practice to expand my knowledge in agriculture."