Hartpury unveils new skills framework to support digital transformation of agriculture


Hartpury University and Hartpury College have unveiled the Digital Skills Framework in Agriculture, a national benchmark for education and training providers. The framework will act as a reference point for learners, teaching staff and businesses to support the future needs of the agricultural industry. 

The document lays out the big picture for digital skills in agriculture and provides a model for assessing job requirements, personal proficiency and development planning. 

The practical resource is filled with tips and links to a variety of tools and introduces a new reference acronym for digital skills in agriculture, D-I-S-C-O (Data and insight, Innovate and improve, Safe and legal, Communicate and collaborate, Operations and activities). Each section contains a number of learning outcomes using a checklist model and the content has been created with input from fellow Landex Colleges Myerscough College, Chichester College, East Durham College, Abingdon and Witney College, Oaklands College and the Warwickshire College Group.

Colleges and universities, other training providers, professional support services, and technology suppliers can all make use of the wide-reaching resource. Farmers and growers can also use the framework to assess the digital capabilities in their business and develop these further. 

Ultimately, it will help to create a common language and boost digital proficiency levels across the sector. This will ensure the industry and those working within it are best placed to embrace innovation in order to address challenges including feeding a growing population, addressing the reduction of agricultural land and addressing sustainability and climate change.

Tom Bradshaw, NFU Deputy President said: “As farmers and growers our role is not just to produce the nation’s food. Our work also safeguards rural communities in some of the most challenging areas of the country. We do so when our businesses offer rewarding careers and attract new people to our industry and local areas. We must continue to be technology pioneers, building upon our wins. 

“As I look forward, I see exciting new opportunities for people to develop and contribute in new ways. This Digital Skills Framework from Hartpury University and Hartpury College will help farmers and growers, as well as those who support us with learning and advice, understand the digital landscape and how we adapt and grow our people, as well as our businesses.”

Matt Bell, Professor and Director of Agriculture at Hartpury University and Hartpury College said: “Digital technology and applications are already at the centre of our working lives. To make the most of the opportunities they present our agri-food industry will need people with the right digital skills to lead, manage and perform everyday tasks in our businesses. As adoption of new innovations increases, so the unit cost of inventions will decrease to become reachable for more farmers and growers. No longer will progress be led by the big, with the small left behind. More likely, fortune will increasingly favour those who adopt new ways of working with technology.”

It’s been a busy year for Hartpury Agriculture, with the institution launching its Agriculture Digital Studio in May. The studio is a dedicated student - employee - industry facing space where future technologies in agriculture can be explored through agriculture simulators and VR headsets. 

Hartpury remains a leading choice for students wishing to study agriculture. With such a focus on digital skills and agri-technologies, the institution continues to create industry-ready graduates that are well placed to embrace innovation and drive change. In fact, 98% of Hartpury College students progress into employment, university or further study (Hartpury 2023), highlighting how well prepared they are for life after Hartpury. 97% of Hartpury University graduates are in employment, further study or other purposeful activity (Graduate Outcomes 2023).

For any technical enquiries relating to the Digital Skills Framework in Agriculture, please contact; for Digital Skills Framework enquiries please email 

Photo credit: Gabriel Gilson