Agri-tech expert Matt Bell has been appointed the first Professor and Director of Agriculture at Hartpury University near Gloucester to help drive research and innovation and connecting commercial farming activities with student experience.
Professor Bell, an expert in agricultural systems and sustainable food production, specialises in the complex relationship between animals, plants, soil, nutrients, water and climate.
His extensive research allows land managers to assess the impacts of changing their activities to their profit, production efficiency and environmental impact.
In his new role, Professor Bell will help integrate Hartpury’s farming initiatives with research and teaching –including Hartpury’s commercial farm, Agri-Tech Centre and planned Digital Innovation Farm.
Hartpury’s award-winning farm, which supplies produce to M&S, Muller, Glencore and Frontier, and Agri-Tech Centre, which connects local farmers with digital technologies and data, play a central role in connecting students with innovative real-world practice.
By 2030, the government-supported Digital Innovation Farm will make Hartpury home to the National Centre for Agricultural Data Management and Interpretation, to assist the industry in its advancement of agricultural technology, data and security.
This is part of Hartpury’s 10-year smart farming vision, putting it among the national thought leaders in agri-science.
Professor Bell will support Hartpury University’s Agriculture Department in developing ambitious research opportunities, connect commercial activities with teaching, and provide international industry expertise.
Professor Bell said: “The resilience of food systems to environmental change and more resource efficient systems has become a global priority, meaning the ambitious developments at Hartpury attracted me to this exciting new challenge.
“It is an exciting time for farming and the rural landscape with a new policy model for UK agriculture, and the urgent need for more sustainable food systems that produce nutritious and affordable food for all.
“The Digital Innovation Farm at Hartpury is relevant and timely, and will help inform industry and its farm-level decision making.”
Professor Bell added: “My agricultural research and teaching exploring sustainable agriculture has taken me around the world from my upbringing in Herefordshire to Scotland, Australia, Northern Ireland, Nottingham and now Hartpury.
“My early work in Scotland investigated genetics, nutrition, health and welfare of livestock before moving to Australia to use my agricultural systems background in work investigating the impact of climate on pasture-based livestock systems.
“My varied experience will benefit the current developments at the farm, take research solutions to commercial adoption and help shape the future of the agriculture departments at Hartpury University and Hartpury College.
“Hopefully my passion for farming systems with inspire students to seek a career in agriculture and potentially further their learning from FE to undergraduate and then postgraduate study at Hartpury.”
Agriculture degrees and diplomas at Hartpury provide routes into a range of career opportunities within the UK and international agriculture industry, including farm management, agronomy, policymaking, academic research, science and consultancy.