Posted 19 October 2015
I'm really excited, this is a special opportunity to do real-life research on the ground, and to know I can contribute.”
Harper Adams University student Rachel Glover is putting trees at the heart of her new research. She wants to find out how they can benefit both farmers and conservation.
Can they play a part in mitigation schemes to stem flood water, and protect land?
She's aiming to come up with a hands-on guide. "I hope to develop a practical tool that can be used by farmers, landowners and advisers to help decide where to plant and what species to select," Rachel said.
Her work is part of a Masters in Research (MRes), which is being funded by the Woodland Trust.
Over the next year she'll deliver two projects, both farm based, with the first concentrating on flood plains. In the second, she'll work on developing a model to enable farmers to look at the cost benefit analysis of using trees on sheep farms.
She has just made her first farm visit, but says none of her work would be possible without support from the Trust: "I'm really excited, this is a special opportunity to do real-life research on the ground, and to know I can contribute.”
So where does her passion for the countryside come from? “As a child growing up in Warwickshire, I used to help my aunt look after her chickens. From there I became interested in how the countryside works, and how farming, conservation and wildlife can co- exist.”
Rachel studied Environmental Conservation as an undergraduate at Bangor University, and worked with a ranger team on a large estate to gain practical experience. She then completed an MSc in Sustainable Agriculture at Harper Adams, where she is continuing her MRes studies.
“The MSc made me realise that agriculture was such an important element in land use, I wanted to find out more, and to find ways to link conservation and agriculture together.”
Rachel is the third MRes student supported by the Woodland Trust, and is part of a close collaboration between the Trust and Harper Adams University.
Helen Chesshire, Woodland Trust senior farming advisor, said: "We are delighted to welcome Rachel and we are looking forward to collaborating with her on her research projects over the next 12 months.
“The Masters in Research (MRes) seeks to show the benefits of trees to both the agricultural sector and our natural landscape. The aim is to achieve economically and socially viable food production, and environmental protection.
“Through the research conducted so far, we have sought to demonstrate how trees can benefit farms, with particular focus on how shelter belts improve soil conditions and crop yield and how trees can play a key role in improving the resilience of livestock systems - including the possibility of nutritional and medicinal benefits for dairy cows.”