Rural Innovation Centre
The new RAU Rural Innovation Centre is an important development for the agricultural sector. It enables the sharing of cutting-edge knowledge between those involved in agricultural production and those undertaking applied research.
The Centre is based at the University’s Harnhill Manor farm, which totals 491 hectares in size and offers very different farming system situations, allowing for a wide variety of on-farm research trials, bridging the gap between the laboratory and the farmer.
Recent academic trials range from those relating to carbon sequestration in farmland hedgerows to trials on the effect of paternal and maternal blood lines on lamb carcass quality. The University frequently hosts a variety of trials for private agronomic companies, including BASF, NIAB and Agrovista.
The Rural Innovation Centre officially opened by Professor Sir John Beddington in March 2014, following a £1.2million investment by the University and the Frank Parkinson Trust. The Centre encompasses teaching, training and event rooms, a laboratory research workshop, a machinery workshop, a demonstration hall and has extensive external training capacity. It provides the ideal location for events such as the recent TH White precision farming demonstration.
Alongside the sharing of scientific research, the University now delivers its vocational rural skills training from the Rural Innovation Centre. The University is a well-established provider of professional rural training to both the public and private sector, with courses delivered to organisations from the Environment Agency, Natural England, and the Wildlife Trust, to local councils, schools, farmers and agronomy companies.
In November 2013, HRH The Prince of Wales, President of the RAU, visited the Rural Innovation Centre to meet a number of those who would be using the facility, including RAU students enrolled on the One Year Farming Course. He also met some of the local young people who would benefit from the £50,000 grant donated by The Prince’s Countryside Fund to support the Centre in delivering vocational short courses.
The Rural Innovation Centre, in collaboration with the Centre for Translational Research, will lead the international discussion on how individuals and communities are empowered to adopt entrepreneurial mindsets that deliver business success, personal development and community growth. These individuals will be the advocates of the future for the agri-food and land based sector.