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Future of farming tackled with help from OF&G agroecology scholarship

Date Published: 24/03/2016

A scholarship to teach the food producers of tomorrow how to link agriculture with conservation has been launched in memory of a leading figure in the organic livestock sector.

The OF&G and Harper Adams University Agroecology Scholarship will see one student receive £4000 to help fund their place to study an MSc in Agroecology as part of the award.

One of only a few courses of its kind in the UK, the course aims to prepare students for a career in conservation agriculture by addressing the ways the agricultural industry can meet the growing demand for food whilst protecting natural resources.

It includes modules that directly investigate farming and ecological systems, such as sustainable farming and biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The Agroecology Scholarship has been created to recognise the work of Bill Allen, a former director of organic licensing body OF&G who passed away in 2005.

As well as working with OF&G, Mr Allen was also a consultant to the Organic Livestock Marketing Cooperative, whose advised producers on increasing the profitability of their farms.

Yorkshire farmer Richard Thompson, chairman of OF&G, said the organisation was delighted to launch the scholarship to benefit students interested in how food production can work hand-in-hand with enhancing and protecting the environment.

“The scholarship is a fantastic way to remember Bill as a man who did so much for agri-environmental and sustainable farming, and for organic livestock farmers in particular.

“This course addresses hugely important issues in terms of global food production and conservation, and I think Bill would be incredibly proud to be associated with it.”

Course leader Nicola Randall said the course will provide students with a detailed understanding of agroecology and the ways modern food production systems can operate alongside conservation and natural resource management.

“Sustainable food production is a hugely important policy issue both nationally and internationally, and finding ways to integrate farming with conservation is vital to the future of our food systems,” she said.

“Previous students have found work in a variety of related professions, including research and farm advisory work, or they are using what they’ve learnt to find alternative sustainable approaches to managing their own businesses.

“We’re delighted that OF&G have recognised the importance of this area of study and are offering support to the agroecologists of tomorrow.”

To be eligible for the scholarship students must have applied for and been offered a conditional or unconditional place on the MSc Agroecology programme at Harper Adams University.

Applicants must be starting their studies in Autumn 2016 and have achieved, or be expected to achieve, a minimum 2:1 Honours degree at the point of application.

For more information on the course and the scholarship visit the harper-adams.ac.uk/postgraduate or visit the next Harper Adams University open day on Friday 15 April.