Well done Kingston Maurward, Dorchester, students

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This article was published in Blackmore Vale Magazine on 2 September 2014.

A group of Kingston Maurward College students have won first prize in the Institute of Agricultural Management’s Farmplanner of the Year competition. This is the second time in three years that the Dorset agricultural college has scooped the prize.

In case you don't know, the Farmplanning competition is a challenge set to students in agricultural colleges all over the country. They are presented with a real life farm - this year Yennards Farm in Leicestershire - and asked to propose a dynamic business model.

Yennard Farm is a dairy and arable mixed farm. Their aim was to bring back the farmer’s daughter into the farm food business, increase cow numbers and provide a solution for the farmer’s son’s ambition to develop the arable business while considering risk, succession and equity issues.

The winning team came up with the inspired idea of catering to the large local Asian population with a new product for the farm: paneer cheese (you may have encountered this in a Saag Paneer at your local curry house - the one in Chutneys, Shaftesbury is to die for).

They also proposed expansion of the herd from 320 to 420 cows and developing the contract farming business to ensure a sufficient acreage for fodder production.

The judges complimented the team on their mature handling of the issues of succession and tax planning. It was clear that the students understood the importance of maintaining good relations with support staff and that experience and knowledge is key in the world of farming.

The two runners up, Harper Adams and Bridgwater provided stiff competition, proposing drinking yoghurt and soft cheesemaking ventures respectively.

With Kingston Maurward winning and Bridgwater in the top three, it’s true what they say, us in the west, really do know how to farm best!