The Netherlands-based animal and aqua feed company announced Wednesday [Oct. 9] the start of the new competition – the Young Researchers Prize. Submissions are open to researchers globally and set to be collected through Dec. 9.
The competition also provides cash awards of €12,000, €8,000 or €5,000 (about $13,200, $8,800 or $5,500) to the top researchers selected by the judges, according to the company.
The competition marks the company’s 25th anniversary and seeks to draw more attention to issues facing animal nutrition and sustainable production, the company said.
“We hope the prize encourages more students to move into this broad field to help us discover and develop new technologies, new ideas and new tactics to achieve this important goal,” the company told us. “The importance of finding possible solutions that fit Nutreco's mission of 'Feeding the Future' is increasing every single day.”
The competition is intended to recognize students or post-doctoral researchers with promising research covering animal science, agriculture and veterinary science, according to information from Nutreco. However, work on economics or in areas like big data that also apply to those fields can be submitted.
Regarding precision farming, the focus includes ensuring that animals or plants are raised in “optimal conditions,” which are directed using digital tools and big data, according to competition information. Precision nutrition – customized nutrition for individual or small groups of animals – also is part of the category.
Projects looking at young animal nutrition can consider maternal nutrition, along with improvements focused on the first few days or weeks of life, the company reported. Research in animal health and welfare covers “critical transition phases” like relocation, weaning and reproductive periods with an interest in improving an animal’s resistance to disease and minimizing the reliance on antibiotics.
“Nutrition affects the gastrointestinal functioning of the gut in many aspects and has a significant impact on the intestinal microbiome, the intestinal barrier function and the development of immune competence,” the company said. “Adopting new strategies in animal health are expected to contribute to reducing the need for non-sustainable solutions such as antimicrobials.”
“The prize … recognizes outstanding research efforts to address the increasingly important challenge of generating enough food for the world’s growing population,” Nutreco said. “The solutions to this challenge will have to be systemic and sustainable, encompassing the various different farming systems on our planet.”
To take part, researchers need to be nominated through a letter of support by a professor or supervisor and submit information about their chosen or planned study, a paper for a conference or information about their thesis, according to company information. They also need to explain what the proposal is, how it is intended to work and how it relates to the company’s set mission of ‘Feeding the Future.’
If the research being submitted for consideration is planned, the plans need to be concrete, the company said.
“They should have designed their study and they should have approval for the study by their professor,” Nutreco said regarding what researchers need to document. “They should also be able to write a high-quality summary of their plans, or ideally show an article or submission for a conference.”
The proposal included in the submission should detail how the outcome of the research relates to supporting increased production, the company added.
Competitors are set to be evaluated for quality of the research, its innovation, and the proposal’s sustainability along with its quality or value for the agriculture or aquaculture industries, the company reported.
Judges for the event include a group of experts in sustainable nutritional solutions along with Leo den Hartog, Alex Obach, and Coen Smits – Nutreco‘s heads of research and development, and Viggo Halseth, chief innovation officer at Nutreco and José Villalón, Nutreco’s corporate sustainability director, the company said.
Competition winners are set to be recognized at an event in early 2020, according to company information.