School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Agriculture Facilities

Agriculture Facilities

NU Farms

NU Farms is a research, teaching and engagement platform based across our two sites.

Run commercially, the farms comprise more than 800 hectares of farmland, specialist units and laboratories, and host facilities from other scientific and engineering disciplines at the University.

Cockle Park is a 307 hectare mixed farm situated 18 miles north of Newcastle. It is owned by the University.

Nafferton Farm‌ is a 498 hectares farm located 12 miles west of Newcastle, near Stocksfield in the Tyne Valley. It has been rented from the Allendale Estate on a traditional AHA tenancy since July 1944 with a 999-year lease on the land.

Cockle Park Farm

Cockle Park Farm is a 307 hectare mixed farm situated 18 miles north of Newcastle. It is owned by the University and is one of two farms we operate.

The farm comprises a rare combination of arable and animal resources, dedicated staff and modern conference and teaching facilities. It is one of the few facilities in the UK that encompasses the farming of pigs, dairy and beef, as well as a variety of arable cropping and grassland trials. 

The principal objectives of the farm are to provide a:

  • research facility especially in the area of livestock production
  • demonstration facility for teaching purposes
  • viable farming business

Key features of the farm include:

  • C-DIAL - our high-tech unit, part of the Government's Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Livestock (CIEL)
  • Cockle Park Pig Unit (‌PDF: 375KB)‌ - combines commercial and research activity in an integrated manner to demonstrate good commercial practice and show impact of applied research outcomes
  • Palace Leas Hay Meadow Plots: long-term trial‌ (PDF: 485KB) - the world's longest-running grazing and hay cutting experiment, established in 1896, and one of the oldest fertilisation trials.
  • Grid-connect anaerobic digestion - sustainable rural energy demonstrator, part of the University's £20m National Centre for Energy Systems Integration
We have fantastic facilities for the farming of beef and dairy cows at Cockle Park Farm.
We boast fantastic facilities for both beef and dairy farm at Cockle Park Farm.

Conference facilities

The Seminar Room

Based in a modern barn conversion, this is the perfect space for conferences of up to 60 people. The room is suitable for boardroom meetings, theatre-style presentations, and classroom teaching. The room houses a high quality audio system, and has black-out capability. White board and flip-charts are available.

The facility also offers free parking with direct access.

The Lodge

A versatile, spacious room, the Lodge can hold up to 40 people for conferences or presentations. This large room has a projector and screen, with white board and flip chart provision. It has a reception area and kitchen facilities are also available. The Lodge is ideal as a reception and refreshment area for larger events at Cockle Park Farm.

The Wheldon Meeting Room

A boardroom that accommodates up to 12 people. It can also act as a breakout room when booked as part of our larger conference package. It offers a boardroom style arrangement, with audio-visual facilities, flip charts, and whiteboard. Free parking is available next to the meeting room.

All meeting rooms can be booked with hospitality. For further information, please contact NU Farms.

Contact details

Cockle Park Farm
Newcastle University
NE61 3EA

Farm Director: James Standen
+44(0) 191 2082288 or +44 (0) 1661 830222

Facilities Enquiries: 
+44 (0) 191 2084689, +44(0) 1661 830222 or +44(0) 191 2082288

Enter your postcode or address to find directions

Nafferton Farm

Nafferton Farm‌ is a 498 hectares farm located 12 miles west of Newcastle, near Stocksfield in the Tyne Valley. It's one of two farms operated by the University.

Nafferton farm has been rented from the Allendale Estate on a traditional AHA tenancy since July 1944 with a 999-year lease on the land.

The principal objectives of the farm are to provide a:

  • research facility especially in the area of organic production
  • demonstration facility for teaching purposes
  • viable farming business

It's best known for our work on farming systems led by the Nafferton Ecological Farming Group: since 2000 half of the land at Nafferton Farm is farmed organically, with the other half farmed under conventional husbandry.

The two systems are primarily focused upon dairying and arable cropping. Both also operate beef production enterprises as a byproduct of their dairy enterprises.

Contact us

Nafferton Farm
NE43 7XD

Farm Director: James Standen
+44(0) 191 2082288 or +44 (0) 1661 830222

Enter your postcode or address to find directions


One of the two Government Agritech Innovation Centres that we are involved in, CIEL is a consortium of 11 world-class research institutes developing new industry-needed solutions.

Our role in The Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) is to lead the Centre for Digital Innovation Applied to Livestock (C-DIAL).

Based at the University’s Cockle Park Farm C-DIAL is a purpose-built facility bringing the latest sensor-based and automated technologies to precision livestock farming, and equipment for the continuous monitoring of the performance, health and welfare of livestock.  Secure storage and processing of the large body of data generated can be carried out at the Centre and there are also conference and demonstration facilities on site.

C-DIAL is a cross-faculty initiative between veterinarians, animal and computer scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

Find out more by emailing NU-Farms, visiting the CIEL website, or downloading our C-DIAL_Leaflet.

The C-DIAL team (l-r) Dr Stephen Matthews (Computing), Louisa Craigs (Livestock Technician) and Mark Brett (Research Facilities Manager)


The Centre for Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) supports sustainable and profitable farming. It does this by bringing together leading science, research and industrial organisations.

CHAP encourages adoption of new plant-protection products.

It provides technologies that empower farmers to tackle threats to crop productivity.

It is one of two Government agri-tech innovation centres we're involved in.

Field laboratories

CHAP provides field laboratories. These check and test ecologically friendly pesticides and biocontrol agents.

This is part of the Centre for Applied Crop Science programme.

We've designed four towable trailers to use as autonomous ‘in-field’ laboratories. We've equipped the trailers to: 

  • demonstrate scientific equipment
  • undertake on-farm testing and diagnostics
  • take part in knowledge exchange events throughout Europe

Engaging farmers on their own turf

Engaging farmers on their own turf is a major new tool for the research and scientific community.

We can involve them in activities and decision-making processes. We can also develop the trust relationship between farmer and industry.

Our trailers are an ideal platform for this.

Flexible technology and demonstrator platforms

Our trailers can be rapidly configured to suit client and event-specific needs. We use an extensive range of diagnostic and test equipment for applications, including:

  • DNA sequencing
  • crop canopy sensors
  • UAV imaging

Extensive support infrastructure

Our trailers operate as mobile satellites for our extensive agri-tech resources and competencies.

They integrate with modernised laboratories at Cockle Park Farm. These labs can carry out follow-on analysis and interpretation where necessary.

We have four mobile laboratories available for use anywhere in the country.

Services offered

We offer on-farm demonstration and knowledge exchange, including:

  • new technology demonstrations and training
  • protocol validation by end users

 We also offer on-farm laboratory services, including:

  • on-farm sampling, processing and storage
  • developing on-farm diagnostic tests (for example, Blackgrass herbicide resistance)
  • environmental monitoring
  • precision agriculture data collection hub
  • UAV  imaging, hyperspectral and crop canopy sensors
  • data handling and real-time interpretation

 Our incident response facilities include:

  • rapid deployment of scientific capability at incident source
  • business continuity for lab closures
  • mobile lab demonstrations for exploring new applications for agri-tech/crop protection products

Asset champions

You can find out more about our CHAP facilities from our asset champions. (PDF: 460KB)

A discussion between our researchers and a farmer inside one of the CHAP mobile laboratories.


Agriculture staff and students access a suite of well-equipped modern laboratories.

The laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art analytical equipment such as HPLCs, GCs, LCMS, Pentra, CN analyser, centrifuges, spectrophotometers and molecular biology equipment.

Specialist research facilities include:

  • tissue culture laboratory
  • plant growth incubators (new plant growth room facilities currently under discussion)
  • class II laboratory for safe handling of human biological samples
  • taste panel facilities and test kitchen
  • Various dedicated laboratories ranging from Microbiological to general plant soil and animal work.

We also operate closely with colleagues in other schools and institutes and the University's central scientific facilities for access to other specialist analytical services.

For work with human subjects we use the purpose built Newcastle Clinical Research Facility. This is situated in the Royal Victoria Infirmary teaching hospital and is managed jointly by the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University.