What we do

See a sample of our current projects.

The scientific knowledge and tools available to understand how to make agriculture more efficient and sustainable are increasing all the time, it’s just that many of these advances are from other disciplines. In 2011, Les Firbank at Leeds, Sue Hartley at York and Jonathan Leake at Sheffield came together to see how the relevant expertise across these Universities could be brought to bear on putting British farming on a more sustainable footing. They won pump priming funds from the White Rose Universities to develop a research network that undertake a wide range of measurements of soil biodiversity, function and structure along transects running from field centres into the hedgerows and farm woodlands at the University of Leeds Farm, near Tadcaster. This network includes FERA and the University of Manchester.

The University farm is an ideal base for operations, lying midway between the Universities very close to the A1, and with a history of commercial arable management. This pilot was successful, and provided baseline data that led to the much larger research projects that are underway now. The Consortium has won around £4M in research grants and support for studentships since 2014, and is a key component of the new N8 Agri-Food Resilience Programme, that integrates agri-food research, innovation and KE across the research-active Universities in the north of England.

The Consortium meets once a month, either at the Farm or at one of the Universities; these meetings are open to anyone who would like to come. The Consortium has no formal structure, rather it is a vehicle for those of us interested in agriculture to come together, and share ideas and knowledge.