10 ways Hartpury is backing British farming


Agriculture is at the heart of Hartpury University and Hartpury College, so it’s no surprise that the Gloucestershire institution has thrown its weight behind NFU’s #BackBritishFarmingDay. Here are some of the ways we’re supporting the agriculture industry and championing the future of farming.

1 - We’re addressing the agri-tech skills gap

Hartpury College will use its share of funding from the Department of Education’s (DfE) Strategic Development Fund (SDF) to help bridge the digital skills gap in agriculture and to further develop local industry links within agri-tech. Just over £2.6 million of funding has been awarded to a group of Gloucestershire colleges. Hartpury will use its share to create a new Agri-tech Digital Studio - a dedicated student-employee-industry facing space where future technologies in agriculture will be explored using simulation.

2 - We introduced a new part-time Professional Certificate of Higher Education

Our new Professional Certificate of Higher Education in Agricultural Enterprise Management welcomed its first cohort of students in September. The part-time course takes a total of two years to complete and equips graduates with the skills they need to progress into a management role. Applicants need to be working within agriculture to secure a place on this course, which has been designed to fit around work commitments.

3 - We introduced our first official agriculture postgraduate degree

The MSc Applied Agricultural Sciences degree is Hartpury University’s first official postgraduate agricultural degree. Focusing on using science to improve protocols and sustainable solutions across the agricultural industry, the programme reflects our wider commitment to boosting skills, research and sustainability in the sector.

4 - Our Agri-Tech Centre and Tech Box Park provide a home for digital innovation

The launch of our £2million Agri-Tech Centre (2019) followed by the launch of our £2million Tech Box Park (2022) demonstrated the progress being made with Hartpury’s ten-year Digital Innovation Farm vision to provide world-class agriculture facilities, education and research.

The Agri-Tech Centre is an industry-facing facility for current and future generation farmers who can receive comprehensive access and support to the latest agri-technologies. It also exposes current students to smart farming techniques and data-driven research, to enhance their understanding of livestock production, yield and sustainability, and go out into the world and make a difference.

The Tech Box Park is home to 10 x 40ft high-cube commercial units, developed using environmentally friendly, repurposed shipping containers clad in cedar wood. They’ve created a new kind of workspace dedicated to enabling the growth and development of Gloucestershire’s innovative agri-tech, food-tech, and green-tech businesses including start-ups and SMEs.

5 - We introduced an Agri-Tech Business Membership

Our Agri-Tech Centre operates a commercial membership package that offers resources and support to innovative tech companies nationwide. It provides an opportunity to share associated knowledge to help further increase their overall farm performance and productivity. Members also have access to our purpose-built facilities for training and demonstration to existing and prospective clients.

6 - Our alumni are having an impact on British farming

Our former students are championing Hartpury all over the country, and we love hearing of their successes. Ben Jordan, a BSc (Hons) Agriculture graduate, is working as a Nutrition Agronomist for Origin Fertilisers. As part of his role, he’s helping farmers to get the best from their fertiliser applications by providing crop and soil nutrition advice. Scott Millar, a former BSc (Hons) Agriculture graduate, returned to Hartpury recently as a member of our Agri-Tech Centre. He’s been appointed as a Customer Success Manager for Trinity AgTech.

On the subject of alumni, a group of former Hartpury College agriculture students returned last year to celebrate 60 years since they graduated. The group were treated to a tour to see how the campus has changed.

7 - We’re dedicated to agricultural research that makes a difference to farmers

Our team of academics are passionate about research and the impact it can have on providing real-world solutions. Research such as observing behavioural changes in sheep to help farmers with lambing management, can have a real impact.

In another area of livestock farming, Aisling Carroll, a PhD student and Programme Manager at Hartpury University, was awarded an Edgar Pye Research Trust Scholarship. The scholarship provided funding for a research project investigating the effects of probiotic use among dairy calves to promote overall health and wellbeing.

Research is a big deal at Hartpury. In fact, research submitted as part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 was recognised as ‘world leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ and we were named the no.1 STEM university for ‘Local Growth and Regeneration’ in the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) 2022 results.

8 - We joined with fellow institutions to form the Agricultural Universities Council (AUC)

Hartpury University joined with 15 other institutions that offer courses in agriculture or carry out agricultural research to form the Agricultural Universities Council (AUC). The Council will agree on joint agricultural research priorities and work with farmers and others who have a stake in the industry’s future. As farming faces up to a transitional period, the initiative aims to provide a joined-up approach to research and to ensure public investment in agricultural innovation makes a difference on the ground.

9 - We help our students make industry connections while learning

Events such as our Future of Agriculture event, organised by Hartpury’s Innovation, Careers and Enterprise team, are just one of the ways we’re helping to introduce students to industry partners. It allows students to consider their career options and make connections that could prove pivotal in later years.

Students develop practical and commercial expertise, including management and decidion making, ready to make a difference. From smart technology in our Agri-Tech Centre to data-driven research projects in our advanced new dairy parlour, our commercial Home Farm provides plenty of opportunities to put learning into practice. Students are continually exposed to real world industry practices on a commercial farm with cows, calves, sheep, arable land and modern facilities, as well as a £2m Agri-Tech Centre within our Digital Innovation Farm.

10 - We’re committed to farming with wildlife and the countryside in mind

Through our own farming practices, we strive for the highest environmental practices to protect wildlife and preserve our countryside for the future.

Stephen Watson, Lecturer in Agriculture at Hartpury University, said: “British farmland not only produces nutritious food, but farms provide habitats for hundreds if not thousands of wildlife species. Here at Hartpury, we like to work alongside nature to produce milk, meat and crops from our mixed dairy and sheep farm.”