Douglas Fleming receives The Nick Bird Award, an engraved perpetual trophy and a cheque for £500, from Mrs Katie Bird on graduating from Harper Adams University.First winner of The Nick Bird Award is Doug Fleming, an agricultural engineering student at Harper Adams University, from Berwick-upon-Tweed. He gained the award by coming up with a simple, commercially-viable solution to the problem of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in cattle.
The Nick Bird Award was set up by Reading-based Farmex in recognition of the work carried out by Nick Bird, a director of the company who died earlier this year. His 17 years working in the field of real-time monitoring of pig production systems had a significant impact on the industry.
The award is for an outstanding piece of written work that involves recorded observations of an agricultural process, data analysis and interpretation with demonstrable added value for farmers. It is open to final year students at HAU.
BRD, a multifactorial disease that attacks the lungs of young calves, is estimated to cost the British dairy industry £60 million every year. Doug Fleming, a BSc student, took an engineering approach to this problem and set about designing a prototype sensing system that could alert farmers to a potential outbreak. The system was integrated into automatic milk feeders and the final design was successfully validated on a commercial farm.
The award, an engraved perpetual trophy and a cheque for £500, was presented to Doug Fleming, by Mrs Katie Bird, at the HAU graduation ceremony.
“The importance of information and communications technology (ICT) for sustainable production in agriculture has been highlighted recently by the government, the Ossiach group and RASE, so The Nick Bird Award is very timely,” commented Hugh Crabtree, managing director of Farmex. “By inaugurating this award we hope it will both commemorate Nick’s work and encourage students at HAU to forge new career pathways in ICT and precision farming.”
Currently Doug lives on the 850-acre mixed arable and beef family farm in Whitsome near Kelso in the Scottish Boarders, but will be putting the money towards a trip to New Zealand before taking up a graduate position with Claas UK.
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