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Chief Scientific Advisor opens farm centres

15 June 2012

The Frank Parkinson centre
The Frank Parkinson centre

“This is a truly splendid environment, and I think the Principal and staff should be really proud."


Sir John Beddington discusses cereals research with Professor Simon Edwards
Sir John Beddington discusses cereals research with Professor Simon Edwards
Visiting the Engineering Department
Visiting the Engineering Department
Learning about Harper Adams fresh produce research
Learning about Harper Adams fresh produce research

Harper Adams University College today welcomed Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Sir John Beddington to its Shropshire campus to officially open new education and research centres. 

Sir John unveiled plaques at Ancellor Yard, a redevelopment of a site on the University College Farm. The main hall of the new Frank Parkinson Farm Education Centre has been named the Beddington Room in honour of the occasion. 

Addressing guests, Sir John outlined what he has previously termed “The Perfect Storm” of food, energy and water security in the context of climate change.

“It is predicted that the world population will reach eight billion by 2025. It was seven billion last October. If we operate agriculture to meet the challenges of that extra billion, and also address the significant problems of poverty and malnutrition, but we use the same technologies we have traditional done at the close of the 20th century and early 21st century, we would generate enormous environmental problems, whether they are in biodiversity, sustainability or greenhouse gas production,” he said.

“So where’s the answer? The answer lies in sensibly addressing practical but also highly innovative techniques which genuinely produce more food for fewer greenhouse gasses. That has to be the way forward for the future

“Harper Adams has a great future, because it is genuinely addressing these problems. It has been very moving experience to come here and see the energy of the staff, the excitement of the students and to see that you are addressing practical problems and engaging with your stakeholder community not just in the UK farming sector but beyond. 

“This is a truly splendid environment, and I think the Principal and staff should be really proud of what you are doing. It is a great honour to have a Beddington Room, and I think the design of the building is fabulous, so congratulations. It is a great honour to be able to declare these buildings open.” 

The Frank Parkinson Farm Education Centre is a newly-constructed building which provides a hub for student and short course activities.  It will enable a wide range of people of all ages and backgrounds to access the Harper Adams Farm as part of their learning experience.  The centre has been designed as a flexible learning space which uses green design features to ensure that it is also efficient to run in terms of heat and power.  The scheme has been supported by a generous donation from the Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust. 

Next door, The Frontier Crops Centre has successfully regenerated some of the oldest buildings on the campus to provide much needed resources for the Crops Department to continue its cutting edge research and education activities.  

The centre houses newly appointed senior staff with expertise in entomology.  It also provides welcome space for postgraduate PhD students and postdoctoral research staff close to the farm.   The complex includes a flexible meeting room space fitted with digital technology that can be used for teaching, research seminars, meetings or short courses.  

It also benefits from green design principles including an efficient biomass heating system. The construction of the project has been supported by a generous donation from Frontier Agriculture.

Mark Aitchison, Frontier’s Managing Director, said: “This is a significant financial commitment but it’s one we are delighted to make. At Frontier, we recognise that if we want to continue to employ the best talent in agriculture then it’s vital to invest in the next generation.”

Harper Adams Principal Dr David Llewellyn said: “The facilities opened today are two parts of the same objective. We were trying to create a centre for farm education which better matches the location of the heart of our farm activities, with our new dairy unit. We have had an awful lot of support and I would like to give huge thanks to the Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust and Frontier.” 

Sir John Beddington went on to launch a report on how agricultural engineering can contribute to meeting the global food security challenge. Full story here.

 

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