Agriculture is the dominant user of land in the UK and accounts for about 70% of the total land area. Increasingly Precision Farming techniques, where the aim is to vary the inputs in production systems so the output is optimized from both an economic and environmental perspective, are becoming more important and will become widely adopted in the future. The course will draw on the resources of the National Centre for Precision Farming at Harper Adams, including a new mechatronics laboratory, an extensive range of modern tractors and other farm machinery, Real Time Kinematic Global Positioning System (RTK GPS), and robotic research vehicles.
Precision Farming is developing rapidly, led by horticultural growing systems over the past two decades, but increasingly being adopted by other agricultural producers. These Precision approaches are increasingly applied to livestock production, for example, in the formulation and delivery of precise rations for dairy cows. This subject area combines the development of electronic control systems, application technology and the agronomic or livestock advice required to utilise the precisely tailored inputs.
The course will give students an increased awareness and understanding both of the principles of crop agronomy and animal husbandry. Teaching will be contextualised presentations of theory with direct practical consideration, and the research project will be a major undertaking in an area of engineering, or crop or livestock production linked to Precision Farming.
It is designed for a range of graduates, including those with engineering or agricultural degrees or graduates wishing to pursue a career in agriculture who originally studied in a different discipline. Specific tailored modules and options enable the courses to be appropriate to graduates of different backgrounds.