Suffolk student wins Nick Bird Award for ammonia sampling study

Annie Marschalek, from Stowmarket in Suffolk, has won the 2020 Nick Bird Award at Harper Adams University for her dissertation on the “Impact of poultry farming on air quality in Shropshire”. This was completed despite the considerable limitations imposed by the COVID-19 restrictions.

The Nick Bird Award was set up by Reading-based Farmex in recognition of the work carried out by Nick Bird, a director of the company who died in 2013. His 17 years of working in the field of real-time monitoring of pig production has had a significant impact on the industry and, increasingly, other livestock sectors.

The Award – a perpetual trophy and a cheque for £500 – is for an outstanding piece of written work that involves recorded observations of an agricultural process, data analysis and interpretation with demonstrable added value for farmers.

Annie Marschalek created her own sensors in the campus workshop using test tubes and filter papers to collect ammonia. These were strategically sited inside and outside of the poultry sheds to assess where it travels to and its impact on people and the environment. “I found from this project that currently there is no standard method for the passive sampling for ammonia and this makes it hard to collect and compare data across farms – and therefore to do any future benchmarking, which is key to improvements,” she said.

“Annie’s dissertation demonstrated she is fully aware of this very topical subject and, better still, was able to come up with her own sensor system. All during pandemic restrictions – really well done!” said Hugh Crabtree, managing director of Farmex.


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