#BackBritishFarmingDay - 13 ways Hartpury students, staff and facilities continue to support the agriculture industry


For 75 years, agriculture has remained at the heart of Hartpury. As always, we’re throwing our weight behind the NFU’s #BackBritishFarmingDay, celebrating the best of British farming. It’s a great time for us to reflect on the last twelve months, and how our staff, students and facilities have played their part in the agriculture industry.

We unveiled a new Digital Skills Framework in Agriculture.

During the summer, we unveiled the Digital Skills Framework in Agriculture, a national benchmark for education and training providers. The framework acts 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).

Read more here.

Our new Digital Studio launched in May.

We launched a new Agriculture Digital Studio in May, setting a new standard for agri-tech innovation in Gloucestershire. Designed to inspire the next generation of farmers, the innovative new teaching facility gives students access to the latest in agri-technology and precision smart farming simulation. 

In partnership with industry and education providers, the new Digital Studio will enable students to safely participate in agricultural tasks and experiences from the comfort of their classrooms using virtual and augmented realities. The aim of these simulations is to see how we can increase yields via sustainable methods, protecting the planet while still meeting the demand of feeding a growing population. This will help students to develop machinery skills, build confidence in different real-world situations and harvest conditions, all in a risk-free environment.

Could we add the benefits of the studio here - developing machinery skills, building confidence in different situations and harvest conditions, risk-free environment etc.

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We received funding ahead of launching new agriculture T Levels.

We’ll be using new government funding to develop key facilities and purchase specialist equipment ahead of launching three exciting new agriculture T Levels in 2024. Hartpury College will introduce T Levels in Land-Based Engineering, Crop Production and Livestock Production for the 2024-25 academic year, with the workshop refurbishment due to complete before the arrival of the first cohort of students. 

Read more here.

We celebrated agriculture research at Hartpury’s Research Conference.

Hartpury University staff, students, and invited guests celebrated the end of a busy academic year of research at the institution’s annual Hartpury Research Conference: Making a difference, in July.

In line with Hartpury Agriculture’s commitment to sustainability and agri-technologies, Wing Ng (PhD) presented her paper exploring ‘Achieving net zero through farm level carbon assessment.’ Brian Evans (Agricultural Lecturer, Hartpury University) and Torin Nicolson (BSc (Hons) Agriculture) explored the ‘Impact of different Nitrogen fertiliser application methods on grass yield and nitrogen use efficiency within a UK dairy grazed trial area’, while Aisling Carroll (Equine Science Lecturer and PhD) has been ‘Investigating faecal bacterial communities in pre-weaned Holstein dairy calves and the influence of management events.’

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We’ve teamed up with fellow universities to produce a research strategy.

Hartpury University has joined a group of agricultural institutions to join up their research and strengthen the difference they make on the ground. The Agricultural Universities Council (AUC) presented the new research strategy at an official launch in May, with all 16 universities committing to working together more closely.

Read more here.

We unveiled a sustainable ‘breeding index’ for the dairy industry.

Professor Matt Bell, Hartpury University’s Director of Agriculture, created a ‘breeding index’ to select dairy cows based on traits that are key to enhancing sustainability such as milk production, health, fertility and lifespan. The Hartpury Herd Index can be replicated on any dairy herd to select and breed cows that are best suited to their farm conditions.

Talking to BBC Radio Gloucestershire in May, Matt explained “As part of our journey to net zero, we’re trying to identify cows that are more sustainable for Hartpury’s farm conditions, so we developed our own Hartpury herd index to select cows that are not only productive over their lifespan but also have lower carbon emissions.” 

The study used information from the genetic background of cows to formulate the index based on individual cow profitability and carbon footprint. 

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A Hartpury University student won a British Wool scholarship.

A Hartpury University BSc (Hons) Agriculture student is currently undertaking an optional placement year, after being announced as the English winner of British Wool’s 2023 Training and Development Programme earlier this summer. 

22-year-old Tilly Abbott from Suffolk is receiving one year’s free access to British Wool training courses, including machine shearing, gear training, and wool handling. She’ll also head to Bradford to visit British Wool’s Head Office and learn more about the wool processing chain. Working closely with British Wool, Tilly will also share her training journey on social media, with the press and online.

Read more here.

Our Agri-Tech Centre joined LEAF’s vibrant network of Innovation Centres.

This spring, the Hartpury Agri-Tech Centre joined LEAF’s (Linking Environment and Farming) vibrant network of Innovation Centres and demonstration farms alongside some of the UK’s leading research establishments and most progressive farmers. The new status will benefit students as they prepare to become industry leaders, policymakers, managers and agriculturalists, as well as the wider farming community.

Read more here.

Our staff and students discussed industry issues at a special focus group.

Students and staff from Hartpury University and Hartpury College had their say on a wide variety of industry topics during a special Farmers Guardian focus group ahead of National Careers Week (6-11 March 2023). The event took place at Hartpury’s Agri-Tech Centre giving those in attendance a chance to debate the hot topics, challenges, opportunities, and common misconceptions facing the agriculture industry.

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Staff and students advocated for mental health support during #MindYourHead week.

The #MindYourHead campaign, organised by The Farm Safety Foundation, returned for its sixth year in 2023, with a rallying call for farmers and industry organisations to work together to combat anxiety, stress, and poor mental health in agriculture. Hartpury staff and students came together to highlight the importance of campaigns like this.

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A postgraduate student received an NFU Mutual Centenary Award.

Joe Goodenough, a Hartpury University PhD student was one of three promising postgraduate agricultural students from across the UK to receive a ‘Centenary Award’ bursary from The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust. Joe’s thesis is exploring how different strategies such as farm assurance schemes could include mental health assessments, to support wellbeing in the UK dairy industry.

He said: “I have held a long-term interest in both wellbeing and resilience within the farming community, and dairy farming is very close to my heart too. Since a young age, I helped with milking on my family’s dairy farm, so I have a detailed understanding of the peaks and troughs of the British dairy industry.”

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A Hartpury University student joined the #BreakingBarriers Scholarship scheme.

A Hartpury University student successfully applied to join the #breakingbarriers Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) Scholarship scheme 2023, run in partnership with McDonalds UK and Ireland.

Wonga Matubatuba, a student on Hartpury’s BSc (Hons) Agriculture with integrated placement year programme, joined four individuals with representation from Harper Adams University and Royal Agricultural University students. The OFC Breaking Barriers Scholarship aims to give young people the opportunity for peer-to-peer networking and to share views and ideas, while gaining access to key skills development training. The programme is open to people aged under 30 years old who identify as Black or a Person of Colour (BPOC) and have an interest in the food, farming and agricultural sector. 

Read more here.

We celebrated a bumper crop of agriculture enrolments at Hartpury College.

Last but certainly not least, Hartpury College celebrated a bumper crop of agriculture students for the 2022/23 academic year, with enrolments up by over 17% on the previous year. More than 400 students started studying agriculture, land-based technology or countryside management (game) last September through a Hartpury diploma or apprenticeship in the subject area. In addition to an increase in overall student numbers, the department also celebrated an increase in female agriculture students.

Read more here.

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