University of Shropshire helps lead the way in national agricultural research

Harper Adams is one of the members of the new group

Newport-based Harper Adams will be one of more than a dozen universities joining forces to form the Council of Agricultural Universities (AUC).

The group will agree on common agricultural research priorities, working with farmers and others interested in the future of the industry.

A total of 16 universities will make up the AUC, which will work with the four UK governments.

Its first project will be to map existing agricultural research capacity across the UK for the first time in a decade and work with farmers, as well as environmental, social and community groups, food businesses and other parties. stakeholders, to define future research priorities.

This new research initiative was announced by Defra Secretary of State George Eustice MP, speaking at the launch of the UK Agriculture Partnership.

Professor Michael Lee, deputy vice-chancellor of Harper Adams University, said the group would ensure research was focused in the right areas.

He said: “The research conducted at the institutions that form the AUC – including my own, Harper Adams University – is vital, helping to develop sustainable food and agricultural practices for generations to come.

“Through collaborative action between us, industry and our farmers, we can ensure that the world’s leading research is deployed in the most effective way.

“Our new School of Sustainable Food and Agriculture will play a vital role in the operation of AUC. The school is following up the launch of the UK Agriculture Partnership with a webinar and sandbox event to address the application of science to achieve agricultural transition.

“These invitational events, co-developed with Food and Farming Futures, led by Lord Curry, will result in an advisory document to support funding decisions in agricultural science and ensure their impact.”

Professor Rob Edwards, Director of Newcastle University’s School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, who chairs the AUC, added: ‘We already have a wealth of expertise and facilities for teaching and agricultural research across the UK, but we can do even more. , with more benefits for agriculture and the public, if we coordinate our efforts.

“That’s why this group of universities, drawn from all four nations of the UK, decided to work together in the Council of Agricultural Universities. Universities, like all sectors, face a range of competing demands and pressures and I have been heartened by the tremendous goodwill and commitment of our members to work together.

The AUC’s work to agree on joint research priorities is supported by the Center for Effective Innovation in Agriculture (CEIA).

The center’s Professor Tom MacMillan, also the Elizabeth Creak Professor of Rural Policy and Strategy at the Royal Agricultural University, attended the UK Agriculture Partnership’s launch event.

He said: “Farmers, industry and public interest groups have long worried about the impact of publicly funded research. Some of this frustration is shared by scientists, especially when they find themselves competing for research grants when it would make more sense to collaborate. At this extremely difficult time for agriculture, it is truly refreshing that so many leading research institutions are teaming up to help solve this problem.

Lana T. Arthur