Sainsbury's is calling on young adults to consider a career in farming as it opens applications for its horticultural and agricultural apprenticeship programmes this September.

The retailer is the first to launch such apprenticeship schemes, which are run in partnership with Staffline. They give young adults from the age of 16 the chance to work with some of the retailer's most progressive food suppliers, many of whom use the latest innovations and technology in the sector - from learning the digital infrastructure of glasshouse computer systems to managing crop growth through the use of drones and smart phone apps.

Research reveals that over a third of 16-24 year olds match the criteria for a modern-day career in farming, and the industry will need 60,000 new employees just to replace retiring farmers.

Through research carried out by YouGov over three-quarters (80 per cent) of young adults still have outdated perceptions of what careers in the industry actually involve. However, the study further uncovered that over a third of young adults selected criteria that match modern day careers in farming when they were asked to describe their ideal job - access to the latest technology (selected by 20 per cent), flexible working hours (58 per cent) and variety in their day-to-day work.

Robert Honeysett, Sainsbury's horticultural manager said: "A third of those (31 per cent) assume they need a family connection to break into the sector, which isn't the case. We hope our apprenticeship programme will help show that there are a number of alternative routes into farming."

Market round-up

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd had 5559 store and breeding sheep forward at Ayr on Thursday. Top prices and averages for breeding sheep: Blackface ewe lambs to £86 and averaged £60.92 (-£2.53 on the year); Scotch Mule gimmers £136 (X2) and £121.43 (-£5.90); Scotch Mule ewe lambs £90 and £72.70 (-£7.31).

The 2702 store lambs on offer comprised the largest show seen at the centre for some considerable time and sold to £63 for Charollais, £60.50 Beltex, £58 Suffolks, £57 Texels, £52.50 Mules and £49.50 for Blackfaces to average £52.04 overall.

The Cumberland and Dumfriesshire Farmers Mart sold 3673 prime lambs in Longtown on Thursday to a top of £100 per head and 226p per kg to average 161.4p (+12.1p on the week).

A large show of 6573 cast sheep saw heavy ewes sell to £134 for a Texel and average £68.03 (+£2.50), while light ewes peaked at £72 for Blackfaces and levelled at £42.69 (+£1.18).