2021 winners follow up: Jessica Langton, Agricultural Student of the Year

Jessica Langton knows how to multi task and deliver on the raft of opportunities she seizes to improve her self development and career within the agricultural industry. Danusia Osiowy catches up with the young farmer and student.

It is evident Jessica Langton wants to make a difference to the agricultural industry, and is taking great strides to ensure it happens. The second year student is currently studying for a degree in animal science at Nottingham University but her ability to manage a raft of commitments inside and outside of university life provides for a heady mix of achievements. It was just one of the reasons judges decided to crown her the winner of last year’s Agricultural Student of the Year as part of the British Farming Awards. The panel praised her for being a fantastic ambassador for the industry and her ability to link her understanding of science and academia to solving key problems within agriculture. Upon receiving her award, Jess credited the farming community for supporting her and offering opportunities. “I was honoured to have won this award as it meant so much to be recognised,” she says. “The industry is so vast that there is a place for anybody and everybody. There are always people around to help you make your dreams come true.” Central to this is her family’s 57-hectare (140-acre) dairy farm in Derbyshire, where she has been the driving force behind the introduction of Jersey and Norwegian Red genetics into their pedigree Holstein and Friesian herd following her breed research. She also works part-time for Genus ABS as a reproductive management systems technician as part of their work experience Insights programme. “I look after the cattle side of things, including herd heath, breeding plans and the day to day management of the cows,” she says. “I incorporated the Jersey and Norwegian Red genetics into the herd after we moved onto a constituent contract a few years ago. “Through my work with Genus, I knew that the Jersey breed would increase our butterfat and protein content significantly and that the Norwegian Red genetics would improve our overall herd health.” At university, Jessica is a peer mentor for the university’s school of biosciences aiding the transition of new students into university life, and is a course representative, acting as the voice of the students
on her course.

Novel approach

A member of Enactus Nottingham, a not-for-profit organisation run by students, Jessica was excited at its novel approach to reducing methane emissions and being able to pro-actively participate in sustainable practice learning. “I got involved with Enactus after seeing them launch a project looking at reducing methane emissions in ruminants through feeding them seaweed,” she says. “This was a new project and with the NFU setting us an industry target of achieving Net Zero by 2040, I was keen to get involved. Within the team we achieved second place nationally at the Enactus UK finals in 2021 and the project is continuing nicely.” Outside of university, Jessica has been showing since the age of five and, three years ago, became actively involved with Holstein Young Breeders. In 2019 she was the intermediate linear assessment and stockjudging champion and the reserve champion calf handler and last year qualified to enter her home-bred calf, Locklan Jaguar Twilight, for the All Breeds All Britain to achieve 10th place in her respective age category. “I do enjoy competing as I like the adrenaline rush it gives me and I have a very strong competitive spirit.”


Later this year she begins a PhD in ruminant health technologies at the University of Nottingham, inspired by her enjoyment around her research dissertation during the final year of her undergraduate degree. “Being a dairy farmer, animal health and welfare is something I’m passionate about and I was honoured to be offered this PhD and I’m excited to start.” When asked how she juggles all her commitments, she credits good time management skills and a well organised
dairy and always prioritises her family, farm, degree and job. Her proudest achievement was winning the Agricultural Student of the Year award and all the opportunities which have come her way through being actively involved with the industry. “I’m proud of the developments I have made towards a career in agriculture. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. “I have grown so much as an individual through the agricultural industry. It’s filled with incredible people and amazing opportunities. “I hope to continue promoting the industry and become an ambassador for women and young people hoping to build a career in agriculture.”