A young dairy farmer from Devon has been proven she's the cream of the crop.

Katie Ackland from Broadclyst has won the RABDF Dairy Student of the Year Award.

The final year student from Harper Adams University beat six other finalists and one of the highest number of entries to scoop the award.

The rigorous application process included writing a 1,500-word essay on a case study and delivering a presentation to the judges over Zoom.

The competition run by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers is designed to reflect real life challenges seen on dairy farms and wider policy issues as well as identifying some of the sectors rising stars and new entrants.

Katie, who takes home £750 and a trophy said on winning the award: “I am absolutely delighted to have won. From growing up on my family dairy farm in Devon, through to completing my placement year on a dairy farm in Kent, I have always loved working and being involved within the dairy sector. Winning this award will give me a great opportunity to be recognised within the industry.”

RABDF vice chair and competition judge Di Wastenage said: “I was really impressed with the quality of the finalists in this year’s competition. Students from six universities and colleges ensured it was very competitive and a really difficult job for the judging panel.”

This year’s competition, sponsored by Mole Valley Farmers, saw some of the highest number of entries from universities and colleges right across the UK. The calibre of the entrants was so high that seven individuals were shortlisted in the finals rather than five.

Robert Craig, RABDF vice chair and judge added: "The optimism and enthusiasm conveyed during the individual presentations was great to see and confirms the industry's in safe hands for the future."

Judge Chloe Cross from Kite Consulting, who set the case study, said the students had a great technical understanding.

“This year’s finalists showed great understanding and sympathy toward the issues posed for the farming example set, touching on the ambition and desires of the family rather than just pushing for a system that they know and have experienced.”

Runner-up was second year Animal Science student Jessica Langton from Nottingham University who hails from a small dairy farm in the Notts/Derbyshire border.