The winners of the inaugural Dairymaster Agricultural Science awards at Waterford Institute of Technology have been announced as John Molloy, Ballingarry, Co Tipperary and Aine Butler, the Commons, Co Tipperary.
The award is to recognise the achievements of BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Science degree students with the best final year project presentation, and was judged by a panel of experts from Dairymaster, Teagasc and WIT.
Earlier this year the leading dairy equipment manufacturer, Dairymaster, whose aim is to help drive excellence in future generations in the agricultural industry, was announced as award sponsor.
“The Dairymaster Agricultural Science Student Award process will help students realise the relevance of their final year projects to a world beyond college. The bursary is very welcome in helping our students make the transition to the workplace following their studies,” said Dr Michael Breen, course leader.
“Our judges Paul Hennessy, Principal Kildalton Agricultural College and Dr Edmond Harty and Dr John Daly of Dairymaster were impressed with the quality of final year presentations. John and Aine’s theses show how diverse research can be and how students can make an impact at an early stage.”
Aine chose the topic 'selenium deficiency in dairy cows' for her thesis.
“I chose this because friends had a selenium deficiency problem on their farm and they now fertilise with selenium and I decided it would be very interesting to look further into this matter. So I decided to compare neighbouring farms selenium levels by analysing grass and soil samples in the lab in WIT and compare them to the farm that fertilises with selenium.”
Aine went to St Brigid's College in Callan Co. Kilkenny and chose Agricultural Science because she has always loved farming at home and thinks the future is bright for farming and for agribusiness.
John Molloy recalls that he chose to study at WIT following a conversation with course leader Dr Michael Breen at WIT’s Open Day. John was very interested by the fact that the course offered the opportunity of work placement in year three which he completed in Teagasc Moorepark Animal & Grassland Research Centre, Co Cork. His final year thesis in WIT was based on his interest from research which he got from Moorepark.
His thesis looked at “The effects of body condition score and energy balance on the milk fatty acid profile of lactating dairy cows”.
“The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of body condition score change of the lactating dairy cow and how this influences milk fatty acids found in milk. The purpose was to be able use milk samples in the future as indicator of high body condition score loss or negative energy balance in lactating dairy cows. This information can be used by farmers to make tactical decisions such as increasing concentrates or reduce to once a day milking,” he explains.
About the BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Science course at WIT
The BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Science course is a four-year full-time level 8 course which prepares students for a career in the areas of agricultural science and agri-business.
There are approx. 180 students across all four years of the Agricultural Science programme, with students travelling from beyond key catchment counties of Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny and Tipperary from all parts of Ireland to study Agricultural Science at WIT.
The programme is delivered in conjunction with Teagasc at Kildalton College of Agriculture. Transport is provided to Kildalton.
Self-management, team working, business awareness, problem solving, land management and communication are all areas which are strongly incorporated into the main core of this level 8 programme.
In the second semester of year 3, students can choose between a farm placement or an industrial placement. The Farm placement is designed to give the student experience of practical farming on a high quality farm. The Industrial Placement will allow learners to apply and develop their skills in the agri-food industry.
Graduates have a strong background in the areas of science, food, agriculture, the environment, business and quality assurance. Graduates from this course can expect to find employment in agri-food industries, sales and marketing departments of agri-businesses, consultancy and advisory services.
Dairymaster has won numerous Innovation Awards worldwide including at the three largest agricultural exhibitions in the world.
Dairymaster’s innovative product range encompasses five key areas: Milking Equipment; Automated Feeding Systems; Manure Scrapers; Cow Health & Fertility Monitors and Milk Cooling Tanks. Technology is a big focus throughout.
Dairymaster have customers in more than 40 countries, including Britain, France, Germany, Iran, Japan, New Zealand, Russia and the USA.