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Harper Adams graduate named Agricultural Student of the Year

Posted 24 October 2014

Ross Edwards at the Harper Adams dairy unit

Ross Edwards at the Harper Adams dairy unit

Recent Harper Adams graduate, Ross Edwards, has been named Agricultural Student of the Year in the 2014 British Farming Awards.

22-year-old Ross graduated only last month with a first class BSc (Hons) Agriculture degree and was one of four Harper Adams students shortlisted for the award.

Ross was nominated for the accolade by agriculture course manager and principal lecturer, Dr Russell Readman, in recognition of his achievements throughout his degree - including an impressive 74 per cent average across all modules.

Ross from Gulworthy, Devon, said: “I am amazed and really pleased to have won Agricultural Student of the Year, it really does top off four fantastic years at university.

“To have been nominated by Dr Readman makes the award even more special, as he has always been so supportive of my studies at Harper Adams.

“I’m now off to New Zealand for five months to work on a dairy farm before joining the Velcourt trainee farm managers scheme, as they have kindly held my job offer open until I return.”

During his studies, Ross secured the Velcourt Dairy Scholarship, which included spending his placement year on a 3,800 acre estate in Dorset, helping to run 1,000 dairy cows across two units, 2,500 Romney sheep and 400 beef stores. 

He was chosen to represent the university at the Oxford Farming Conference, spent a year as Chairman of the Harper Adams Forum society, and for his dissertation investigated the effect of using forage crop lucerne in the diets of high-yielding dairy cows.

At graduation, Ross was presented with the Royal Agricultural Society for England’s Top Student in Agriculture award and was a co-finalist in the Institute of Agricultural Management Farm Planner of the Year competition.

Judges commented that: “Ross’ approach to joining the industry was well-planned and based on more than hard work on the farm.

“This ranges from building his flock of Texel sheep from the age of 10, to contributing through membership within the Texel Sheep Society, National Sheep Association and Young Farmers.

“Ross is deeply involved himself in the student community, taking on leadership roles, and shown strong understanding that complacency is not an option in farming.”

The youngest of four brothers, Ross and his family run a 110 pedigree South Devon herd and 550 ewe flock across 330 acres, supplying directly to the local butcher.

Also shortlisted for Agricultural Student of the Year was 20-year-old Grace Munro-Henworth, 21-year-old Rebecca Kelsall and 25-year-old Arthur Callaghan.  For more information, click here. 2013 Agriculture Student of the Year was presented to Harper Adams graduate, Jocelyn Orr from County Down, Northern Ireland.

In addition to Ross’s achievement, 2010 MSc Crop Protection and Agronomy graduate, Stephen Jones, won the Arable Innovator of the Year award, for his business, British Quinoa.

Stephen and his father, who are based at Red House Farm in North Shropshire, grew the UK's first commercial crop of quinoa and supply popular fast food sandwich chain, Pret-a-Manger.

Finally, 2004 Agriculture and Agricultural Marketing graduate, Jim Beary, found himself the winner of the New Entrants Award: Against the odds category.

Jim of Glen Farm in Staffordshire, runs a council farm tenancy and working with Innovis, was one of the first farmers in the UK to breed the Aberfield/NZ Romney crossbred. He now plans to establish a small farm shop and butchery.

The British Farming Awards focus on British farmers discovering inspiring stories of people who have changed what they do and how they do it. The winners were announced at a special awards evening last night, held at the Chateau Impney Hotel in Droitwich.

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