Students receive scholarships to support agri-tech goals

Photo shows Ben May
RAU Benjamin Allard May 2020

Two students at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) have been awarded funding through the Douglas Bomford Trust (DBT) Scholarship to develop their experience of agricultural engineering and technology.

The objective of the DBT is to advance knowledge, understanding, practice, and competence in the application of engineering and technology to achieve sustainable agriculture, food and biological systems for the benefit of the environment and mankind.

The scholarship is a competitive award open to students from agricultural institutions across the UK. Six applicants were successful this year, including two from the RAU – Benjamin Allard and Jake Mortimer.

Ben, who is studying agriculture at the RAU, is passionate about soil health and crop production and will be putting the funding towards a soil nutrient scanner and relevant software which allows analysis of soil and crops. Once he has graduated, he is looking to join a local agronomy firm that he originally undertook a work placement with during his studies.

Ben said: “I was over the moon once I found out that I’d been awarded £1,500. The technology I’ll be putting my funding towards will enable me to help other growers and farmers to have a greater understanding of their crops and soil. It is key for me to use this technology to help others in the industry farm in a more sustainable way.”

RAU Jake Mortimer MayJake Mortimer, who came to the RAU from Kenya, is studying a top-up degree in agricultural management, and is looking to work at an aquaponics or hydroponics farm after graduating.

Jake is putting his funding towards his own aquaponics system. He said: “I was ecstatic when I heard I’d won the scholarship because I knew I could finally do the system justice. I was awarded £2,000 and have already put some of this towards solar and wind power generation equipment, which has allowed me to run most of the system on sustainable energy. This is already making a big difference in saving money on heating and running the pumps but also serves as a model for future projects. I want to develop my own system and business plan, so that I can one day start a commercial aquaponics system of my own.”

The Chair of the Douglas Bomford Trust, Nick August, said: “I am pleased to hear that Ben and Jake have already started to put their awards to good use. This was the first year that our Scholarships have been offered at the RAU, and our Interview Panel were impressed with the students’ presentations and confident, business-like approach. We find that even for those who are not successful, the process of honing their thoughts and facing questions on their proposals is excellent preparation for future interviews, and we wish them all well in their careers.”