Top agronomy students honoured with award from NIAB TAG

10 Dec 2010

Four crop science students have won an industry award for outstanding achievement in their studies.

NIAB TAG’s Agricultural Science Student Education Training (ASSET) programme is a joint initiative with four leading crop science universities; Reading, Harper Adams, Newcastle and Nottingham, aimed at encouraging more students into the plant science sector.

The programme supports crop science students in their studies by providing valuable agronomic information and leads, tailored to the curriculum of each university, as well as important networking links with the applied research and agronomy industry through NIAB TAG.

Newcastle’s Robert Barker, Harper Adams’ William Watts, Nottingham’s Jack Norris and Reading’s Chris Phillips each win a £3,000 bursary to assist them in their final year at university. The awards were presented by NIAB TAG chief executive Dr Tina Barsby at the HGCA 2010 Agronomists’ Conference.

The winners, one from each university, were chosen on the quality of specific second year project work, a recommendation from their tutors and an interview with NIAB TAG staff. They will also receive NIAB TAG’s quarterly technical journal Landmark Bulletin free for two years, and early access to opportunities within the organisation and initiatives in the wider crop science sector relevant to their studies.

“The aim of NIAB TAG ASSET programme is to inspire students to better understand how they might aim to make a difference to the UK agricultural industry in their future careers,” explains Dr Barsby. “We specifically want to encourage the best undergraduates into careers that will support applied research and knowledge transfer for the future benefit of the arable sector.

“Robert, William, Jack and Chris have been rewarded for outstanding knowledge and initiative in their studies. It is a fantastic achievement, and I wish them all well in their final year of study and look forward to watching how their careers progress in the future,” says Dr Barsby.

The scheme is available to students enrolled in a specific crop based module in their second year. Students register their interest in participating in the programme with their course tutor, who puts forward candidates to NIAB TAG staff.

The ASSET programme is funded by NIAB TAG with generous support from The NIAB Trust and The Morley Agricultural Foundation.

Details on the NIAB TAG Asset scheme winners:

Robert Barker

Robert is in his final year of a BSc Agriculture (Hons in Agronomy) at Newcastle University. A tenant farmer’s son he was brought up on a mixed farm and has been an active member of his local Young Farmers Club where he has served as both programme secretary and treasurer. He is looking to pursue a career in Farm Management and worked for Velcourt over the summer of 2010.

William Watts

William is studying at Harper Adams Agricultural College. A student that has always shown a great deal of interest in his subject William is passionate about agronomy and expects to follow a career in the sector when he completes his course.

Jack Norris

Jack Norris is a final year undergraduate on the BSc (Hons) Agriculture course at Nottingham University. Jack’s home is in Derbyshire and, although not from a farming family, he has always had a keen interest in agriculture and already has his own small flock of sheep. He also helps train adults with learning difficulties in areas such as woodland management.

Chris Phillips

Chris has been a top performer on the BSc Agriculture programme at Reading University. Originally from a Cornish dairy farm Chris has developed a broad expertise in business management and agronomy, as well as livestock production. He stood out in the ASSET-related competition where students compete to grow a cereal crop with the highest gross margin.

For further information contact:

Ron Stobart, head of crop research communications, NIAB TAG
T: 01953 713209
M: 07957 966802
E: ron.stobart [at]

Issued by:

Ros Lloyd, FrontFoot Communications
T: 01487 831425
M: 07711 568164
E: ros.lloyd [at] ( )