Jerry Rider has been presented with the Royal Association of British
Dairy Farmers' Princess Royal Award 2004, by Her Royal Highness
at Buckingham Palace. The honour was made for his outstanding services
to the industry following assessment by three independent judges.
Mr Rider who has retired from the family's 243ha farm at Horton,
near Devizes in Wiltshire has throughout his 50 year career pioneered
scientific and practical developments in grassland production and
management and he has taken a lead on technology transfer. He introduced
successfully to his own farms the New Zealand management concept
of taking more milk from grazed grass and eventually rolled it
out nationally. Supported by the British Grassland Society, and
with the help of Genus and Mr Rider's close association with Livestock
Improvement Corporation NZ, he introduced a team of consulting
officers for the Grass '99 project. Its successor, Pasture to Profit,
was funded by the Milk Development Council.
"Hundreds of farmers have been challenged by these projects," he
says. "The New Zealand consultants have encouraged them to
take a fresh look at their businesses by introducing management
regimes which simply place greater reliance on grazed grass resulting
in improved financial performance," he says.
Mr Rider's initial enthusiasm for improved grassland management,
was inspired by the late Prof Mac Cooper, while he was studying
agriculture at Wye College (University of London) during the 1950s.
He had the opportunity to put science into practice after graduating
and taking up a farm management position, and in the 1970s on his
own farms after securing tenancies initially in Cheshire and shortly
afterwards, Wiltshire. While farming in Cheshire, he helped to
found Deeside Dairy Farmers, a farmer led management and buying
co-operative, and he became its first chairman.
Since then, Mr Rider's involvement in the British Grassland Society
and various other farming groups have provided him with an opportunity
to share new technical knowledge and experience. Introducing innovation
continues at Horton, which is now farmed by his son, Jonathan who
introduced 'once-a-day' milking seven years ago as part of his
low-cost production regime.
Chairman of RABDF's judging panel, John Alvis commented: "Jerry's
drive and enthusiasm has inspired not only fellow dairy farmers,
but also researchers, advisors and commerce. Furthermore, his willingness
to share his knowledge and management experience has been appreciated
by a wide range of audiences from local societies and discussion
groups, to Government research committees and research centres
in the UK and overseas."