Students receive scholarship to support agri-tech goals

21 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 Douglas Bomford Trust 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 forward to joining a local agronomy firm that he originally undertook a work placement with during his studies.

Image of Benjamin Allard

Speaking about his award from the DBT, Ben said: “I was happy to have the opportunity to show my passion for agriculture and how technology can play a greater role in creating a sustainable agriculture industry. I was over the moon once I found out that I’d been awarded £1,500. It has given me extra motivation for chasing my passion and goals.

I am very excited to get out into the industry and learn from agronomists and farmers alike. 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.”

Jake 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 to help increase his knowledge and practical skills.

Image of Jake Mortimer

Jake is putting his funding towards his own aquaponics system. Speaking about winning the award, 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, commented: “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.” 

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