An innovative approach to feeding dairy and beef cattle has won the 'Practice with Science' award presented by the Oxford Farming Conference and the Royal Agriculture Society of England.
The prize money, which totals £10,000, was given to feed wagon manufacturers Keenan who will invest further into feed efficiency.
The Mech-fiber system was established based on work conducted on dairy farms. After one year of using the system, milk production increased by 1.74kg cow/day from 0.64kh less feed, equating to up to 10% improvement in feed conversion efficiency.
The net margin gain on these farms translated to the equivalent of 54p/day or an additional 2p/litre of milk.
The award was set up in 2010 to recognise agricultural benefits resulting from scientific work and innovation.
"The award is open to individual researchers and to businesses or institutions that have commissioned valuable research" said Oxford Farming Conference director John Giles.
"The judges were impressed with Keenan's long-term investment into the Keenan Mech-fiber System which gives farmers a practical approach to improving their economic, environmental and animal health performance by adopting a precision feeding regime targeted at rumen efficiency."
"Their development reach has a strong international dimension which was also of interest to the judges. Keenan has worked with local feed companies in many countries including developing countries like India and developed countries like the USA to adapt the Mech-fiber System to suit local farmers' feed availability and feeding practices."
"Keenan was selected because their work has added direct and measurable benefits to ordinary farmers not only in the UK but throughout the world."
Gerard Keenan noted: "British famers operate in an extremely volatile market with ever changing milk prices and feed costs."
The runner up in the 2013 Practice with Science Award was the eBolus, developed by design engineer Seonaid Nimmo of eCow Ltd.
The eBolus, in its early stages of development, is used to monitor rumen pH and temperature.
The eBolus works wirelessly to alert herd managers to any fluctuations in the rumen environment, acidosis and issues like mycotoxin levels in maize silage.
RASE Chief Executive David Gardner, a speaker at the 2013 OFC, noted the important legacy of the award's intent: "Global agriculture faces a huge challenge to feed a growing world population over the coming decades and science has a fundamental role to play in meeting that challenge."
David Yiend of AB Agri said: "Science will play a central role in improving efficiency, increasing yields, reducing our greenhouse gas footprint and enriching our environment."
"It will also crucially help to project agriculture as a progressive and exciting industry. A positive public image is essential if agriculture is to attract the brightest young talent of the future and, of course, secure the public trust and acceptance of new technologies which will be so instrumental in meeting our future supply challenges."