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Final year agriculture students win Farm Planner of the Year 2017

Posted 15 May

“It was a brilliant team effort and to come out on top against some very good competitors makes it even better."

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A team from Harper Adams University has won the 2017 Farm Planner of the Year competition.

It’s the second year running Harper Adams students have been victorious in the Institute of Agricultural Management contest, which aims to promote the role of all aspects of planning in modern farm management.

The Harper team, comprising final year students Tim Vries, Joshua Casswell, Gwesyn Davies, Rhys Jones and Will Ayre, joined competitors from universities and colleges throughout the UK to visit the host farm at the start of the competition in November 2016. They didn’t have too far to travel as this year’s farm was on the Sundorne Estate, Shrewsbury.

There they were hosted by Farm Business Consultant Jon Birchall, who set the scene and later helped to judge the entries.

The students had to prepare a business plan that would maximise the farm’s returns and make recommendations on topics including uses for redundant farm buildings, eliminating rye grass, and improving soil quality.

The plans were submitted in March and judged before the final was held last week, with Harper Adams going up against teams from Newcastle University and Bishop Burton College. Judges included Mr Birchall and representatives of competition sponsors Bayer and Farm Plan. The Harper students, and their farm business lecturers Tony Asson and Wyn Morgan, were delighted to be declared the winners.

“It was an enjoyable competition and we all learned a great deal but to win was a complete shock,” said Tim Vries, 23, from Comberton, Cambridgeshire, who is nearing completion of his degree in Agriculture with Farm Business Management.

“It was a brilliant team effort and to come out on top against some very good competitors makes it even better. Being able to represent Harper, in this way, in our final year was quite special.”
BSc (Hons) Agriculture student Will Ayre, 23, from Crediton, Devon, added: “It’s a great competition, especially as there are people that work in many different sectors of the industry that are involved with the running and judging of the competition. It was a great team effort, we designed our farm business report around the opportunities that the business had, while being realistic and promoting sustainability.”

Team mate Joshua Casswell, 22, from Lincoln and also studying Agriculture with Farm Business Management: said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience! It was a great opportunity to work with an amazing team and win overall against other agricultural students."

Gwesyn Davies, 21, from Brecon, Powys, and Rhys Jones, 21, from Lincoln, complete the team, who have won tickets to attend the International Farm Management Congress in Edinburgh in July.

This year’s contest was the 24th annual Farm Planner of the Year competition and was nationally sponsored by Farmplan and Bayer, with additional local sponsorship from Hutchinsons, Lloyds Banks and CF Fertilisers.