Emma Tristram, a graduate from Harper Adams University, is this year’s winner of the Nick Bird Award. The perpetual trophy and a cheque for £500 is awarded to an outstanding piece of written work that uses recorded observations of an agricultural process, data analysis and interpretation with has demonstrable added value for farmers.

Intensive livestock technology specialist Farmex established the award to recognise the work of Nick Bird, a director of the company who died in 2013. During 17 years in the field of real-time monitoring of pig production, Mr Bird’s work had a significant impact on the industry and, increasingly, on other livestock sectors.

Farmex managing director Hugh Crabtree says: “Emma Tristram’s dissertation provided an excellent insight into a very topical subject. A comprehensive literature review preceded clever use of field data to identify an index of heat stress in a dairy herd. Emma went on to use established assessments of cost implications for dairy farmers due to the negative impact of heat stress. Using knowledge and data in this way is exactly what the Nick Bird Award is all about.”

While on placement, Ms Tristram noticed that some cows had lower summer fertility. One farm was interested to see if heat was a key factor in this, and Ms Tristram used data loggers to collect information on heat and humidity in relation to cow fertility. Heat stress has an impact on cow fertility and this can cost farmers a lot of money. Ms Tristram suggests installing heat abatement such as fans or sprinklers, which could be a viable option to combat fertility losses.

Ms Tristram intends to use her prize money to further her career as a ruminant nutritionist, and she has started a job in this field with independent West Country nutrition consultancy SC Nutrition.

Hugh Crabtree and Emma Tristam