Research at RAU

The Royal Agricultural University has always positioned itself at the forefront of ‘applied research’ in agriculture, from its foundation 175 years ago, when the industrial revolution was realigning food supply systems, through to today when societal concern is focused on how to feed humanity and conserve the land in a period of challenge and change.

Our research strategy is framed around three goals:

Feeding the world in a changing climate

Food insecurity is a central concern of government. With the UK hosting COP26 in November 2021, there is even greater focus on the need to develop resilient, sustainable systems to optimise food production, promote animal welfare, and implement smart agri-technology solutions that will make food production more efficient, and achieve net-zero in agriculture by 2040.

Sustaining and restoring the global environment

In the face of climate change, globalisation, human population growth, loss of biodiversity and wild habitats and rapid urbanisation, the global environment is both directly and indirectly impacted. Our research strategy combines a holistic and technological focus to promote sustainability, landscape-level resilience and biodiversity through agro-ecology, regenerative agriculture and regenerating communities. We are looking at how to keep humans, plants and animals healthy, whilst preserving the cultural heritage, to make the world a better place to live. 

Enabling and revitalising Global Britain in a Brexit and Covid world

Strategies to revitalise, regenerate and enable recovery at local, national and international levels will be framed by shifts in social trends in an increasingly digital world. The need to level up communities and create equal opportunity in the UK and across the world, to regenerate economically and drive export opportunities to new post-Brexit markets, will create opportunity but also require transition, transformation and change.

These three themes interconnect throughout our six research clusters:

  • Sustainability, regeneration and biodiversity in agriculture
  • Livestock health and welfare
  • Food policy, quality and security
  • Equine science
  • Rural economy
  • Cultural heritage

We undertake focused scientific research, spanning the UK and Western and Eastern Europe, but we also have a significant global perspective, especially in our doctoral research community and through our active connections with China, Brazil and sub-Saharan Africa. The University’s approach to research has been formulated around collaborations between scientists, farmers and innovators. As we are located within a largely rural area, we have been able to leverage collaborations, and develop innovative research projects. This approach embraces farmer-science and farmer-led innovation networks, in which existing knowledge, skills and practice is widely acknowledged and developed.

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