Harper Adams University opens first-ever School of Sustainable Food and Farming

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AUTHOR: Fiona Holland

Harper Adams University has launched a new school to teach present and future farmers how to make their farming and food systems more sustainable, enabling them to reach net-zero emissions.

McDonald’s, Morrisons and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) have partnered with the Shropshire-based university to help launch the School of Sustainable Food and Farming, which is the first in the UK to focus purely on teaching sustainable farming methods.

The SSFF will offer virtual courses on important issues relating to sustainable farming. Some of these topics include carbon sequestration which reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the value of green energy production on farms such as anaerobic digestion plants, and the worth of carbon in farming.

In-person teaching will also take place through on-the-farm classes with university tutors. These classes will be delivered by some of the country’s leading specialists in agronomy, veterinary practice and nutrition.

Supermarket giant Morrisons recently set a target to be the first supermarket in the country to be fully supplied by British farms with a net-zero emission status by 2030.

Head of Agriculture at Morrisons, Sophie Throup, said: “It’s the first time the NFU, restaurants, supermarkets and universities have come together to act with one voice for the greater good.

“We have supported the development of this school both for our own farmers – but also for the nation’s farmers.

“It will play an important part in helping all of Morrisons farmers to get to Net Zero Agri by 2030, but Morrisons also wanted to help create a legacy for all of UK farming.”

McDonald’s UK and Ireland have also launched a Plan for Change to help them reach net-zero emissions throughout the business by 2040.

Agriculture and Sustainable Sourcing Manager at McDonald’s UK & Ireland, Harriet Wilson, commented: “We all have a role to play when it comes to tackling climate change, and we are at a moment where we need to work even harder to look after the planet.

“Therefore we’re really proud to be partnering on this innovative School of Sustainable Food and Farming, which will help us to better understand and implement sustainable farming methods that can be used by the British and Irish farmers that produce the quality ingredients for our restaurants, as well as the farming industry as a whole.”

The SSFF’s courses are suitable for a range of education levels including undergraduates who are training to be new sustainable farmers, short courses and apprenticeships for current farmers, as well as longer-term research opportunities.

Through the School, tutors and students can also have a say in policy engagement to ensure the farming sector is receiving the support it needs when it comes to developing more sustainable farming and food production.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Harper Adams University, Professor Michael Lee, said: “It is time for modern agricultural institutions to develop the systems we need to support this production for the twenty-first century – such as this school, which brings together the expertise we have at Harper Adams with the experience of industry, wherever it is needed in the country.

“What we are doing here is pioneering, and it will help the UK to lead the world in agricultural thinking and practice.”

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