Professor Matt Bell

Hartpury’s annual Christmas lecture will explore the role of big data and technology in farming

Professor Matt Bell

This year’s annual public Christmas lecture at Hartpury University will explore the role of big data and technology in farming, and how it can improve farm-level decision making. The event will take place at the university’s Gloucestershire campus (MDC1 lecture theatre) on 6 December starting at 6.30pm, and will be led by Hartpury’s Director of Agriculture, Professor Matt Bell. 

Following the success of the inaugural event in 2022, the free-to-attend annual lecture series continues, offering a community-friendly, festive-themed take on a topical area of interest in one of the institution’s specialist industries. Last year, the lecture was led by Professor Steve Draper who showcased the ground-breaking neuroscience research of the Clem Burke Drumming Project, uncovering the benefits of drumming for people with autism spectrum disorder.

Once again, the event will have an informal atmosphere with the actual lecture taking around an hour. Free mulled wine and mince pies will be served before and after!

Members of the public can attend the event for free but will need to register online

This year, Matt will lead attendees on a fascinating journey of agri-technologies and innovation that continues to produce new solutions to address the food needs of the world. Matt is an expert in agricultural systems and sustainable food production, with an interest in the complex relationships between animals, plants, soils, nutrients, water and the ever-changing climate. His work uses the latest research techniques to improve farm-level decision making. 

Earlier this year, Matt received widespread press coverage after creating a breeding index that would enable farmers to select dairy cows based on traits that are key to enhancing sustainability (such as milk production, health, fertility and lifespan). The index can be replicated on any dairy herd to select and breed cows that are best suited to their farm conditions. Matt has even received a Blue Peter badge for measuring cow burps at the BBC!

Professor Steve Draper, Academic Dean and Professor of Research and Knowledge Exchange at Hartpury University said: “We’re looking forward to our second ever annual public Christmas lecture and can’t wait to switch our attention to agriculture and farming, an industry right at the heart of Hartpury’s long history.

“Matt is an expert in his field and will be bringing his fascinating and impactful research to life, showing the remarkable ways technology and big data are addressing the challenges of feeding a growing global population.

“We’re committed to ensuring the annual lecture is firmly established in the Hartpury calendar, offering an exciting way to present science and research to the community. As well as being interesting and entertaining, events like these can also inspire the next generation of students and researchers.”

Click here to register online

Agriculture research and innovation at Hartpury is supported by the world-class facilities found on campus. This year, a new Digital Studio was launched to provide a safe training environment for students and industry to test the latest agricultural technology using virtual reality. New memberships at Hartpury’s Tech Box Park have opened up this exciting innovative workspace to even more businesses and entrepreneurs wanting to find solutions in agriculture. The Tech Box Park was the second phase in Hartpury’s 10-year Digital Innovation Farm vision, following on from the launch of the hugely successful Agri-Tech Centre (phase one).. 

Learn more about some of the ways Hartpury is supporting farming in the UK.

Research at Hartpury

Hartpury’s calendar of research activities and knowledge exchange continues to build. In July 2023, Hartpury University staff, students, and invited guests celebrated the end of a busy academic year at the institution’s annual Hartpury Research Conference: Making a difference. Students and staff presented an outstanding selection of research from Hartpury’s varied range of subject areas. PhD students were challenged to communicate their project within 3 minutes, an attribute that will no doubt help them to share knowledge with a wider audience in a concise way.

Research carried out by Hartpury University, submitted as part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 process, was recognised as ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’, placing Hartpury amongst a prestigious group of well-established institutions.

The REF is a UK-wide assessment of the quality of research in universities undertaken by expert review panels and is undertaken on behalf of the Government by the funding councils for higher education.