Animal and Agriculture Research Centre

Creating sustainable futures

Urbanisation has changed the relationship between people, animals and surrounding rural and urban areas. Our cross-disciplinary research themes focus on providing answers to challenges that have arisen as a result:

  • Agriculture in Society: We’re finding new ways to connect food production with consumers and city dwellers, integrating food as part of healthy, prosperous and sustainable communities.

  • The Wildlife Continuum: We’re protecting our UK wildlife through re-wilding with minimal human disruption, encouraging biodiversity in line with natural dynamics.

  • Animals in our Care: We’re understanding and optimising the health and wellbeing of the animals that humans are responsible for, through animal-centred and ethical decision-making.

Driving innovation

We ask the right questions, examining animal and agricultural industries through an expert lens to find practical solutions to real-life problems.

Our 360-hectare campus is home to a commercial farm, over 70 different species of animals, and a wildlife haven supporting woodland, meadow and lake habitats. It provides the perfect base for real-world research.

A dynamic team, extensive facilities and valuable research collaborations across the globe enable us to make a difference where it matter, lobbying for evidence-based policies and practices to achieve positive outcomes for all.

Recent research projects

Protecting our canine friends

Many dog owners allow their pets to jump out of car boots, however, our recent research, the first study of its kind, reveals that this could be placing your much-loved canine friends at risk of injury, and, what's more, the higher your boot is from the floor, the greater the level of loading that's applied to your dog's forelimbs.

Zoo visitor-animal wellbeing

Our research on human-animal interactions in zoos is shaping best practice and pioneering innovation - exploring how behaviour, health and welfare are affected in both parties to optimise these during interactions so that both the human and animal thrives.

Shaping animal physiotherapy

We’re carving out best practice in animal physiotherapy, promoting the use of objective measures for monitoring effects of treatment of musculoskeletal conditions by physiotherapists, supporting practitioners to demonstrate outcomes both objectively and confidently to owners, veterinary surgeons and other professionals.

Increasing productivity through agri-tech

Our exciting 10-year Digital Innovation Farm project is shaping the future of digital farming in the UK and beyond. We're playing a pivotal role in the advancement of agricultural technology, data and security through the development of a new innovation and demonstration test-bed.

Staff profiles

Professor Vicky Melfi, Research Centre Lead

Vicky is passionate about understanding human-animal interactions, improving animal welfare and conservation outcomes. Boasting over 30 years’ experience working for zoos, Vicky co-founded the Indonesian conservation programme Selamatkan Yaki.

She's also published successful books including Zoo Animal Learning and Training and Anthrozoology: Human-Animal Interactions in Domestic and Wild Animals.

Professor Matt Bell, Director of Agriculture

Matt is an expert in agricultural systems and sustainable food production, with an interest in the complex relationship between animals, plants, soil, nutrients, water and climate.

Working across the range of activities at Home Farm he supports teaching, research, Hartpury’s commercial farm and Agri-Tech developments.

There has never been a greater need for solutions to enhance the way we produce food and how we manage our land. His work combines latest research approaches to explore innovative farm systems approaches for farm level application.

Dr. Alison Wills, Senior Lecturer in Animal Health

Alison’s research interests focus on canine biomechanics and hydrotherapy, specifically improving the evidence base behind canine rehabilitation through hydrotherapy, working with cases in our campus Canine Hydrotherapy Centre.

Alison’s passion also spans health and welfare in exotic pets, most recently developing evidence to help combat common dental disease and bacterial infections in guinea pigs.

Animal facilities

Our campus is home to over 70 animal species as part of our animal collection  - domestics, exotics, invertebrates and amphibians – as well as a wealth of wildlife that form important research subjects. Students have access to these species, garnering hands-on experience.

Agriculture facilities

Our award-winning 400-hectare commercial farm includes a dairy bull-beef rearing unit, 296-cubicle dairy unit, Shearwell Te Pari Racewell HD3 Sheep Handler. A Digital Innovation Farm is in development which already includes a new Agri-Tech Centre.

Research partnerships

Join our international network of academic and industry professionals; like us, they’re dedicated to making a worthwhile contribution to our disciplines.

Research degrees/PhD study

Choose a Hartpury research degree. Be supported by leading academic and industry experts to make a positive difference to the world.

Communities of practice

Our communities of practice connect academic and industry practice - like-minded individuals make great ideas happen, extending the value and impact of our work.