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Shropshire university honoured with Queen’s Anniversary Prize

Newport | Education | Published:

A university near Telford is to receive the most prestigious honour open to UK universities for its work leading innovation in agricultural engineering.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are part of the honours system and are awarded every two years by The Queen on the Prime Minister’s advice.

They are granted to the whole institution, irrespective of the area of work being recognised, rather than to an individual or department.

Harper Adams University, in Newport, is one of 21 UK universities and colleges of further education which have been announced as prize recipients in the current round of the scheme.

The prizes will be formally presented at Buckingham Palace in February by a member of the royal family.

It is the second Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Harper Adams.

The university was honoured in 2005 for its work developing women-owned businesses to support the rural economy.

The latest award recognises the university’s pioneering work in developing agricultural technologies, and associated alternative farming methods, to deliver global food security.

The range of work for which the university is being honoured includes research into and development of controlled traffic farming (CTF) systems; support for the implementation of unmanned aerial systems and a world-first trial that proved crops could be grown autonomously, from seed to harvest.

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Vice-Chancellor Dr David Llewellyn said: “It is a huge honour to be recognised with the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for higher and further education.

"It is a tremendous achievement by our staff and students and reflects the leading role we have taken in the development of agri-technologies in recent years.”

The university has supported the implementation of agricultural Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), including the development of a code of conduct for agricultural drone use which has been adopted by BASIS, the independent standards setting and auditing organisation for the pesticide, fertiliser and allied agricultural industries, as the framework for its professional courses in this area.

The university has also undertaken novel work with the RAF to determine how low flying aircraft and agricultural drones can operate safely in the same airspace, for which the RAF lead, squadron leader Gary James, was recently recognised with a prestigious flight safety award.

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This year saw the creation of proof of concept for autonomous farming systems – with the Hands Free Hectare project successfully completing a world-first trial to grow a crop of barley on a hectare of land using agricultural robots and drones, and generating world-wide interest and debate in how autonomous systems could assist food production.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prize assessment process is overseen by the Awards Council of the Royal Anniversary Trust.

Sir Damon Buffini, chairman of the trust said: “The focus of the prizes on innovation and practical benefit to people and society is a great incentive to our universities and colleges to think critically about the direction of their work and its application and relevance in today’s world.

"The national recognition and prestige conferred by the prizes also enables individual institutions to win support and leverage funding for their future plans.”

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