‘Living lab’ will address challenge of ethical food security
The world is facing a major problem of feeding an expanding population, but a new centre in Somerset, funded by a £1 million donation, will try to find solutions
AGROUNDBREAKING ‘living laboratory’ for livestock is to be launched in Somerset to help address major issues facing agriculture.
It will be established at Bristol Veterinary School, thanks to a £1 million donation from the John Oldacre Foundation.
The John Oldacre Centre for Sustainability and Welfare in Dairy Production will tackle the global challenge of ethical food security and train the next generation of vets and agriculturalists to help address the major issues facing agriculture.
The world is facing a huge problem of feeding an ever-expanding population with depleting agricultural resources.
At the current growth rate, by 2050 the equivalent of four-and-a-half additional planets will be needed to sustain everyone.
Livestock farming is part of the issue, but, more importantly, part of the solution.
The John Oldacre Centre, which will be based within Wyndhurst Farm, the University of Bristol’s commercially-run dairy unit at Langford, will be equipped with the latest data collection devices, such as motion detection, GPS tracking and thermographic sensors to gather data that will identify and support changes in agricultural practices.
It will bring together colleagues from engineering, data and behavioural sciences to use technology, such as motion sensing, to identify small behavioural and physiological changes at the beginning of a disease, such as mastitis.
The vet school is already working with colleagues in life sciences, using thermography as a novel way of predicting disease, which can reveal very quickly which cow is ill – the earlier a disease can be detected, the easier it is to treat effectively.
As well as being a research resource, the centre will teach undergraduate and postgraduate students in animal production and livestock research, understanding and communicating data, and engagement with the wider farming community.
In honour of the donation, the school will support postgraduate studentships each year.
Work carried out at the centre aims to identify key problems and new research questions, as well as find solutions.
The centre will also educate future generations of students and equip them with an understanding in the field of sustainable dairy production and welfare, sharing the benefits with the UK and global farming community.
Head of Bristol Veterinary School, Professor Richard Hammond, said: “With over 50 years of world-leading teaching and research in animal welfare and farming, the Bristol Veterinary School can make a vital contribution to this critical challenge.
“Thanks to this generous donation from the John Oldacre Foundation, we can embark on pioneering new research that we hope will play a vital role in advancing sustainable farming and animal welfare and tackle some of the major agriculture issues that face the world today.”
Henry Shouler, chairman of trustees of the John Oldacre Foundation, said: “The trustees of the John Oldacre Foundation are delighted to have entered into an agreement with the Bristol Veterinary School that ensures John’s legacy is maintained in perpetuity through the research and experience of the foundation scholarship recipients.”
The donation marks a long-standing partnership between the John Oldacre Foundation and the university.