Pwllpeiran New Entrant Partnerships launched

02 December 2014

Aberystwyth University officially announced the Pwllpeiran Upland Research Platform New Entrant Partnerships at the Winter Fair today Tuesday 2nd December.

The Partnerships offer a unique opportunity for up to two farmers with some experience in managing a livestock hill farm, to work in partnership to develop upland research programmes with the Institute and its researchers.

Nigel Scollan, Waitrose Professor in Sustainable Agriculture at IBERS said; “This is an exciting prospect to work with us to investigate and demonstrate new innovations in Uplands Agriculture, and to identify and exploit new rural or land based enterprises and business opportunities.

The challenges of food security, global warming and the protection of biodiversity require informed and improved use of the uplands through the development of new plants and animal systems. Innovative, science-driven approaches will be developed to meet these challenges, and as such IBERS is exceptionally well positioned to make a major contribution to the UK uplands agenda.”

Professor April McMahon, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University said; “Aberystwyth University has a long and distinguished history of supporting hill farming in Wales through research and training. Initiatives such as the Pwllpeiran New Entrant Partnerships underline the University’s commitment to supporting the agricultural sector through research that will inform its future development.”

The New Entrant Partnerships have been specifically developed to assist new entrants into their own farming enterprise, and will be offered to successful applicants in early 2015 with a Farm Business Tenancy (FBT) operational from 1st September 2015 for a 5 year period.

A range of new innovative research programmes have been applied for, which will utilise the land at Pwllpeiran over the next 5 years. A range of research activities are anticipated which may include crop establishment and conservation, alternative cropping, livestock grazing and productivity, biodiversity, and other areas of research relevant to the Uplands.

The platform is being developed by Aberystwyth University’s IBERS, supported by significant investment from the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council).

Pwllpeiran has been a research centre since the 1930s, working to improve the viability of farming the uplands of Wales.

With increasing emphasis on food quality and provenance, and pressure to manage land in a way that is sensitive to the environment, the science of agriculture has a key role to play.

Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans welcomed the announcement; “I am delighted to attend the launch of the Pwllpeiran New Entrant Partnerships at this year’s Winter Fair. Malcolm Thomas’ recent report into the Next Generation into Farming suggested that farming could do more to present itself as an exciting, rewarding and profitable career choice in order to stem the decline of young and new entrants into the industry. I am certain that projects like this one will do just that by contributing to the development of vibrant upland research right here in mid Wales, and to promoting a Welsh agricultural sector that is modern, sustainable and resilient.”

The Pwllpeiran Upland Research Platform aims to focus on future opportunities for the benefit of the upland farming community throughout the UK and beyond.

The uplands in Wales encompass 80,000 hectares, and this natural resource provides essential services including water, food, fuel, carbon sequestration, wild-life habitats, biodiversity havens, flood alleviation and recreational space.

The Pwllpeiran Upland Research Platform represents a unique catalyst to mobilise the resources of IBERS and other UK research providers to find solutions to challenges including:

• Environmentally friendly farming systems whilst providing farmers with sustainable incomes.

• Methods of benchmarking sustainable production and valuing biodiversity in the uplands.

• Sustainable local food supply chains that allow traceable products of known provenance to be supplied to consumers.

• Value added products that utilise current advances in science to allow farmers to provide high specification products into the supply chain.

• Animal production systems that minimise their environmental footprint by incorporating modern innovations in feeding, management and genetics.

• Management tools that allow upland agriculture to be visualised and managed in a way that ensures benefits are maximised and costs, both financial and environmental, are minimised.

• An evidence base to support well-informed, validated policy development.

The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) is an internationally recognised research and teaching centre providing a unique base for research in response to global challenges such as food security, bioenergy and sustainability, and the impacts of climate change. IBERS scientists conduct basic, strategic and applied research from genes and molecules to organisms and the environment.

IBERS receives strategic research funding of £10.5m from the BBSRC to support long term mission driven research, and is a member of the National Institutes of Bioscience. IBERS also benefits from financial support from the Welsh Government, DEFRA and the European Union.