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Harper Adams’ Vice-Chancellor reflects on the Oxford Farming Conference

Posted 9 January 2013

The Oxford Farming Conference provides an ideal opportunity to hear about latest developments in the sector, and to network with the wide range of farming, wider industry, political and academic contacts.

Dr David Llewellyn

Harper Adam University’s Vice Chancellor Dr David Llewellyn was delighted to join staff, students and governors at this year’s Oxford Farming Conference.

The 2013 event, held from January 2 to 4, took the theme of ‘Confident Farmers – Delivering for Society’.

Dr Llewellyn said: “Harper Adams was represented at the conference by a number of staff, governors and, importantly, a large group of our students.

“Several of our students were sponsored to attend this important event in the farming calendar and, as conference scholars, were able to take part in additional elements of the programme which included the launch of the DEFRA Future of Farming Review by Minister for Agriculture and Food, David Heath, and a reception that included the opportunity to meet the Honorary President of the Conference, HRH The Princess Royal.

“Each of the three fringe meetings that took place at the start of the conference featured work undertaken by Harper Adams. Our contribution to a report on the role of engineering to global food security was highlighted in a presentation by the Institution of Agricultural Engineers; our Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Mills, spoke at a BBSRC event on the role of science, and advanced scientific training, in agriculture; and the Woodland Trust featured recent research we had undertaken on the use of trees as shelter belts in farming practice.

“Later on the first day, we were delighted to receive the congratulations of Lord Henry Plumb, during his after dinner speech, on the announcement that we had been granted University Title, and there was a great deal of support for this development from many of the conference delegates.

“The conference included a presentation by DEFRA Secretary of State, and Shropshire MP, Owen Paterson, in which the role of science and technology, and the importance of attracting new talent into the agri-food sector, were featured.

“There was also considerable discussion on CAP reform, GM crops and, of course, the difficult weather conditions during 2012, whilst a presentation by John Luxton, Chairman of Dairy New Zealand, provided an opportunity for a contrasting view of how to deliver a high quality and economically viable farming system.

“Later presentations explained the economic benefits of adopting precision-farming techniques, set out the Rothamsted Research programme to deliver higher wheat yields by 2020 and considered the role of genetics in delivering improved yields, but also better animal welfare, in livestock production.  It was clear that considerable importance is being placed on the forthcoming Government Agri-Technology Strategy, in which Harper Adams is playing a role to help shape the way in which new scientific and technological advances can be identified and brought into farming practice. 

“The Oxford Farming Conference provides an ideal opportunity to hear about latest developments in the sector, and to network with the wide range of farming, wider industry, political and academic contacts.

“For our students to take part, and to have the opportunity to meet leading industry figures, was a particular bonus. They did a great job in representing Harper Adams at the conference, and we all returned to work, and the start of term, full of ideas about how we can continue to contribute to the development of UK farming and food production.”

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