‘Critically endangered’ flower to be saved from extinction by University

A rare flower is coming back from the brink of extinction, after Kew Gardens entrusted its seeds to a university’s ecology experts.

The Red Hemp-nettle’s (Galeopsis angustifolia) distinctive twin flowers were a common sight 60 years ago. Now herbicides, fertilisers, and the spread of highly productive crop varieties have seen it almost disappear from our fields.

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) has been selected by Plantlife, Europe’s largest wildflower conservation charity, as a partner in its Red Hemp-nettle reintroduction experiment, part of Natural England’s biggest ever species conservation initiative, Back From The Brink.

Work began in April when 27,000 seeds from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Millennium Seed Bank were sown in experimental plots under organic production, at the University’s Harnhill Farm, just outside Cirencester.

Lambing weekend raises money for Wiltshire Air Ambulance

Lambing weekend 2019 was a huge success, with more than 600 visitors to Harnhill Manor Farm – twice as many as last year which was affected by snow. The team this year raised £480 for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance. Well done to everyone involved!

Entrepreneurial students shone at Cirencester youth market

Original artwork, glittering sunglasses and a tourism company were just some of the growing student businesses on show at this year’s Cirencester youth market.

The event doubled in size from 2018 with twenty four stalls in total. Eight enterprises on show from the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) included its own Muddy Wellies beer and Cotswold Hills dry white wine, as well as businesses ranging from clothing to marketing services. The market is organised by Cirencester Town Council and the E4 Group, consisting of the RAU, Cirencester College, Deer Park and Kingshill schools, which supports and encourages young enterprise.

Angolan mobile phone giant joins with the RAU to develop future farmers

Angolan agriculture students are training in the UK in order to return home and kickstart the rural economy, in a ground-breaking partnership between leading Angolan telecoms company, UNITEL, and the RAU.

UNITEL is funding six talented Angolan students, selected from over 500 applicants, to follow a programme of postgraduate training at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester.

The first intake started their studies on the RAU’s Graduate Diploma in Agriculture course in September last year, gaining expert knowledge and farm management experience along with the skills to train others once back in Angola.

University of the Year nomination for RAU

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) has been nominated for University of the Year, in a prestigious set of awards based on reviews from students themselves.

The RAU has made the shortlist of 10 universities competing for the top title in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019. It has also been nominated in the Job Prospects category for the second year running.

The news comes in the same week the RAU was made a Centre of Excellence by the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs – only the sixth university to gain this accreditation.

Whatuni collected over 41,000 student reviews from 160 universities and colleges, travelling more than 43,000 miles across the UK in six months.

Students answered questions on topics such as how well their university helped them find employment and what they liked most and least about the way their course is taught.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 25 April at The Brewery in London, hosted by comedian Omid Djalili.

Katie Duncan, Head of Communications, at IDP Connect which produce the awards said: “In a challenging climate for Higher Education institutions, there is nothing more rewarding than being recognised by their students for delivering such positive experiences. The reviews by current students that make up these nominations are invaluable for prospective students who use them to make decisions about their future.”

Julie Walkling, Director for Students at the RAU said: “Students are the focus of everything we do. These nominations recognise the transformative, inclusive experience being created here at ’OurRAU’, where students’ opinions matter and staff strive to improve teaching, facilities and the sense of community.”

The RAU offers a range of courses in agriculture, animal science, business, environment, equine science, farm management, food, real estate and rural land management.

This year it launched two new postgraduate degrees designed to help students becomes leaders in UK food and agriculture, post-Brexit; an MBA in Innovation in Sustainable Food and Agriculture and an MSc in Sustainable Food and Agriculture Policy.

New initiative will help veterans move into careers in rural sector

A national networking platform to help ex-forces personnel looking to move into careers in the rural sector – and their future employers – is to be launched in Gloucestershire.

Known as “The Rural List Cirencester” and associated with The Liquid List – a well-established veterans’ networking series – it will develop into monthly events at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) for both veterans and employers from across the rural economy.

The initiative, which is the only sector-specific veteran networking event in the country, is the brainchild of Fiona Galbraith, a former army officer and postgraduate student of the RAU from 2017 to 2018.

Defra Secretary visits Royal Agricultural University

Michael Gove visited the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) to learn about its key role in the development of skills for the agri-food and land management sectors and its initiatives to help the industry navigate change.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) toured the University’s Rural Innovation Centre (RIC) at its Harnhill Manor farm, where he heard about the range of practical programmes on offer for both professionals and students, such as courses in calf-rearing and the safe use of medicines on farms.

The importance of farm animal welfare was emphasised, with Mr Gove learning about Professor David Main’s work on welfare assessment and RAU’s Buitelaar dairy bull calf-rearing project involving academics, industry and welfare organisations working in partnership. PhD student Emily Edwards, described research that is underway to address the significant challenges facing the dairy bull calf rearing sector, including antibiotic usage.

The strong emphasis the University places on developing leadership and business skills and entrepreneurial acumen was showcased during a visit to its Trent Lodge site.

Mr Gove met business consultant and Honorary Fellow Christine Cross who mentors students as part of the University’s award-winning Enterprise Programme, which provides an inspiring and supportive environment in which students can share, develop and launch their ideas.

Agriculture and food security research at RAU boosted by £2 million donation

PhD research into topics such as growing soybean as a profitable, low-carbon crop will continue to thrive at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) following a donation of £2 million

The RAU has received this research investment thanks to the John Oldacre Foundation, which supports the agricultural sciences and is a long-term funder of doctoral study at the University.

The RAU’s current John Oldacre scholars are already supported by an investment of nearly £190,000 and are working on crop science projects that will be of long-term benefit to the UK’s food security.

The new endowment of £2 million will ensure future research of this kind at the RAU in perpetuity – an estimated two new PhDs per year. It will also enhance links with the agricultural research community, including a collaboration with the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB).

 

Neighbourhood Engagement Vehicles

Why not come to one of our events?

The Constabulary operates two Neighbourhood Engagement Vehicles that are on the county’s roads most days visiting communities across Gloucestershire. They provide valuable links with neighbourhoods by supporting events, the latest Constabulary campaigns, police operations and also work with the Police and Crime Commissioner. You can find out here where the vehicles are this week.

RAU graduate wins Farmers Weekly Agricultural Student of the Year

Alex Dunn winning Farmers Weekly award 2018

Alex Dunn awarded ‘Agricultural Student of the Year’ at the 2018 Farmers Weekly Awards.

The judges cited Alex’s “entrepreneurial flair, her drive to gain experience and dedication to improving agriculture’s safety record” as reasons why she beat competition from other leading universities in the land-based sectory.

Alex’s nomination was partly due to her creation of an innovative farm safety app, which won the RAU’s own Grand Idea competition for young entrepreneurs where judges included Levi Roots from Reggae Reggae Sauce and Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton.

Alex graduated this summer with a first-class degree in Agriculture. She is currently in New Zealand working with a family of dairy farmers after winning the Richard Wigram Scholarship which invites students to visit the country to learn and share best practice.

She told the Farmers Weekly: “This is an industry that is exciting and open to those not from farming backgrounds. I like the quick response to actions in dairy and I’m good at reading people, so my short-term goal is to become a dairy farm manager. I would also love to get into milking goats because this is a growing market in the UK.

“Poor health and safety in agriculture is a deep-rooted problem that needs a solution. This app would help to protect staff and visitors by changing attitudes towards health and safety and promoting best practice.”

She said of her time at the RAU, in Cirencester: “The University’s Enterprise Society really helped me to develop my ideas, as well as a proof of concept and a business plan that was really scalable.

“What excites me most about the business is to be able to make a difference in the industry. It’s not only agriculture here – there are people studying business and equine and you can learn so much – food production, for example, is going to be so important in the future. The University helps you develop any business idea you’ve got, whether it’s related to the agricultural industry or not.”

Professor Joanna Price, Vice-Chancellor of the Royal Agricultural University said: “Helping out on a local mixed livestock smallholding in Reading as a teenager fostered Alex’s love of the industry. She is a great role model for those who are not from a traditional farming background who may want to study a land-based subject.”

Independent judge Ian Pigott, farmer and Farmers Weekly Columnist said: “It is clear that Alex is not only extremely bright, but also intuitively perceptive of farming issues well beyond her years. But it is the overwhelmingly high regard with which she is viewed by her peers and lecture staff, recognising her skills as a leader, a team player and an asset for British farming, which stood Alex out.”