Royal Agricultural University
The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) is the oldest agricultural college (1845) in the English-speaking world, but also the newest, gaining university title in 2013; until 2000 it was outside the public sector. The RAU was founded with the express aim of delivering what is now termed translational research in a period of rapid scientific and technological developments. It is one of the smallest universities in the UK but has doubled in size during this REF period from ~600 students in 2007 to over 1100 in 2013. Increased size and natural turnover has enabled growth in academic staff during the latter part of this period, allowing realisation of the strategic plan to recruit research active staff to increase research capacity. Growth and level of research activity needs to be set within this transition. Historically the focus has been on teaching but research is also core to the mission, growth and development of the university.
With access to over 50 academic and research staff, University farms and research facilities, the Royal Agricultural University carries out an active programme of UK and international research. We are experienced in providing the right expertise and skills, including working in association with other national and international academic and research centres.
The RAU has a strategy of employing research active staff who can engage with stakeholders to identify research needs and exchange knowledge. They exploit funding opportunities and deliver research outputs to the widest audience through publications, conference presentations, organised conferences and seminars hosted on campus, and visits to stakeholder groups in their own locations. Our Annual Report documents a wide range of such dissemination activities.
The Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Rural Economy research group is based mainly in the School of Agriculture and Food but may involve staff from other Schools; its rationale is to promote higher yield and quality food within sustainable agricultural production and social systems.
Research is carried out on our own farms at Harnhill and Coates (LINK to farms pages) and on neighbouring farms as appropriate.
The Rural Innovation Centre (RIC), visited at its inception by Prince Charles in Nov 2013, is a £1.2M investment on Harnhill Farm (235ha purchased in 2009 for £2.4M) primarily for practical research, demonstration and knowledge exchange. The Rural Innovation Centre at Harnhill provides on-farm facilities for research projects.
The Equine Research Group based in in the newly established School of Equine Management and Science.
Fossehill Farm is an ideal location for equine research. It has a bespoke research barn which can be configured as separate loose boxes or as a communal American Barn facility. This enables efficient comparisons to be drawn between various management systems whilst controlling for environmental variation.
There is a horse walker for standardised exercise regimens often utilised in feeding trails. For medium to maximal exercise testing a 1km long bark chipping track is usable in all weather conditions.
The most recent addition is a 60 x 30 M outdoor arena featuring a Martin Collins Ecotrack. This facility is well set up for gait analysis due to the recent purchase of a high speed camera and Quintic video analysis suite. Moreover, the outdoor arena is the perfect setting for behavioural experiments featuring the ‘Tolmans Maze’ for example. Due to the high fencing and flat surrounding terrain distal cues can be minimised.
There are also laboratories on campus for DNA, dissections and analytical work.A research impact case study on Horse Nutrition is attached.