The winners of the annual Dairymaster Agricultural Science awards at the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) have been announced.

David Corbett from Co. Clare and Robert Tobin from Co. Wicklow scooped the top prizes at the event.

The awards – judged by a panel from Dairymaster, WIT and Teagasc – acknowledges the agricultural science honours degree students with the best final year project presentation.

Dr. Michael Breen – a lecturer and programme leader at WIT – spoke on the matter, saying: “The Dairymaster Agricultural Science Student Awards 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.

“Our judges, which included Pat Ryan and Niall O’Hanlon of Dairymaster, were impressed with the quality of final year presentations.

“David and Robert’s theses show how diverse research can be and how students can make an impact at an early stage.”

David Corbett (22), who comes from a suckler and beef farm in Corofin, Co. Clare, wrote a thesis titled ‘Different performance and sward characteristics of five contrasting swards of different ages from the same grass mixture’.

Commenting on the subject, Corbett said: “In my project I compared and measured the variations of the swards in relation to age and examined dry matter output, growth rates, protein output, leaf proportion, ash content and tillering of the varying grass ages.

Grass production, productivity and animal performance are all areas of particular interest to me. As farming becomes more specialised, these are areas that will need particular attention.

Robert Tobin (21),from Arklow, Co. Wicklow, wrote ‘The Effects of Feeding Sodium Bicarbonate as a Rumen pH Buffer to Finishing Cattle’.

Tobin spoke on why he selected the subject, stating: “I chose this topic due to personal experience with rumen acidosis in cattle at home during the finishing period, and nutritionists selling us expensive supplements to combat the risk of this.

“My aim was to see if this extra cost of supplement was justified and with the help of my supervisor, John O’Connor from Teagasc Kildalton, I successfully found an answer to this,” he concluded.