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Embracing the agricultural technical revolution with innovation in the curriculum

31 Jan 2022 | Business and Employers

Staff Blog: Landex Agricultural Lecturers Conference, 27 January 2022

After a hiatus courtesy of Covid it was fantastic to be back face to face at Landex Agriculture Lecturer’s Conference last week. Myself and approximately 30 fellow agricultural lecturers from North Shropshire, Reaseheath, Abingdon and Witney, Sparsholt, Derby, Coleg Cambria and Shuttleworth Colleges gathered together to discuss and debate the very latest land-based educational innovations, practices and strategies.

I was delighted to have been invited to speak about how we have become an industry leader in the delivery of green education through our relationship with the Yorkshire and Humber Institute of Technology and how we are preparing and equipping students to embrace the industry’s ‘technical revolution’.

In order to meet the demands of a rising population, food production has increased significantly over the past few decades. As a consequence, the impact of the industry on the environment is increasingly under scrutiny. Whilst some renewable energy sources have already been embraced, there are further improvements to be made in tackling climate change and the industry as a whole is under pressure to be more resourceful.

My presentation concentrated on how agriculture is at the forefront of achieving this and how the curriculum at Bishop Burton and Riseholme is preparing students to support these endeavours with the help of enabling technologies; from being a driving force in reducing greenhouse gases to demonstrating how the industry is working to become as efficient as possible.

In collaboration with the Yorkshire and Humber Institute of Technology we have established an Institute of Technology at both our college sites to firmly engrain new technologies in our working practices and the syllabus. These dedicated buildings enable the college to provide students with higher level skills development and showcase the latest innovative practices in the sector. This includes exposure to strategies that are driving more efficient farming methods and hands-on experience with robotic machinery.

A key part of our role as educators is to prepare students to actually leave the college and ensure they have the tools, experience and awareness to be valuable assets to future employers and carve a rewarding and fulfilling career path for themselves. Understanding these wider environmental issues and how technological advancements can assist, support and improve the industry is therefore essential. Introducing these principles into working practices at a grass roots level, as soon as possible is also important. With this in mind we have established a range of short courses to upskill and support the current agricultural workforce. These courses are designed to raise awareness, familiarise and prepare the workforce to be ready and accepting of technological advancements as they increasingly filter into the industry.

Our approach was well received with Liz Lawrenson, Quality Advisor at Landex commenting

"Thank you for contributing and sharing some real new thinking and technology we may see adopted in the future of agriculture. That focus on jobs in the next 20 years was a real moment for thought! Programming of a robot to complete cultivations is coming, and we need different skills in agriculture to take advantage of this technological revolution."

Throughout the day the energy, passion and enthusiasm was infectious as we were treated to a fantastic programme of speakers including an update from Landex Associate Gerald Davies on the latest health and safety practices. Delegates were provided with an overview of the current picture in the industry in addition to some practical tips on how to ensure students and staff put the principles of safe working into practice. Shuttleworth College’s Ann Marie Hamilton also gave an insightful presentation on sustainable practices in Agriculture and explored how the industry can adopt some of these practices in future.

It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet fellow land-based lecturers face to face once again and share the great experience we are delivering for our students and explore and discover more about the work my peers are engaged in. Knowledge sharing of this nature and exposure to new educational practices is crucial for the sector to continue advance and ensure we help prepare our students to meet the challenges this ever changing and fast paced world presents.

To discover more about our approach to green education take a look at our short courses, CLICK HERE.

Helen Martin, Curriculum Area Manager - Land Based & Foundation Studies at Bishop Burton College

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