Students at Writtle University College (WUC) in Essex are leading the way with a new approach to regenerative agriculture.
Two fields on WUC's countryside estate will be dedicated to researching practices that increase biodiversity and soil health.
The work is supported by the Essex National Farmers' Union (NFU) Charitable Trust, and aims to qualify sustainable farming approaches in the UK.
WUC aims to produce a cost-effective model that optimises resource management using mixed farming regenerative principles.
Dr Anya Perera, WUC's Head of School for Sustainable Environments and Design, said: "Sustainable and restorative methods of growing and farming are more important than ever. Our new, student-led project will be a source of vital research for future agri-food professionals. Thank you to the NFU and our partner organisations for supporting our vision."
Writtle University College has been pioneering land-based education since 1893. In 2020, it became the first UK institution to offer a degree in regenerative agriculture. The project aligns with WUC's ongoing commitment to sustainable food production and its focus on practical, sector-relevant learning opportunities.
The first stage of planting will take place in December 2021. WUC’s student-run Gaia Society successfully arranged a generous donation of more than 700 trees from the 'I Dig Trees' campaign.
Society President, Petar Popara, said: "We're delighted to be supporting the project. The Gaia Club is dedicated to making WUC's estate greener and more sustainable. The trees will be a major contribution to carbon sequestration and increased biodiversity."
Work on the project will continue throughout 2022 with cash crops specifically chosen to enhance soil, recover and promote biodiversity and mitigate impacts of climate change.
To follow the project's progress, visit writtle.ac.uk/agriculture.