NU Smart Farms

The Vision

The Vision

The two University farms total more than 800 hectares of mixed farming in Northumberland.

Innovative agricultural solutions

Our facilities provide an open innovation platform enabling researchers to work with farmers, industry, and environmental and government stakeholders. Together, they develop innovative solutions for balancing sustainable global food production with a thriving rural economy and protection of the wider environment.

Our research helps us to understand:

  • the development and functioning of plant and animal hosts, pathogens and their interactions
  • the complex biogeochemical functions of the soil
  • crop and livestock health, welfare and productivity
  • environmental impact
  • interactions between the managed farm environment and the land-air-water interface.

We use this fundamental knowledge to:

  • integrate genomics, physiology and agronomy in molecular breeding approaches
  • develop and optimise farming systems

We collect real data from a network of on-farm crop, soil, livestock and environmental sensors. We use this data to calibrate and validate the digital technologies and models that help us in our research and developments.

Unrivalled expertise in animal science

Our novel, integrative approaches to animal science draw on fundamental research. We advance the health, welfare and production of livestock in an environmentally-sustainable manner. Our approaches meet the requirements of society, industry and policy.

The platform draws on expertise from across the University, including:

  • in-field diagnostics, sensors and pathology
  • molecular and whole-organism mechanisms of resistance
  • phenomics, remote sensing and crop and soil sensing
  • precision agriculture
  • big data analytics, artificial intelligence and mathematical modelling
  • engineering, machine learning and computer vision
  • soil health and nutrient dynamics
  • sustainable farming systems
  • animal behaviour and welfare
  • monitoring of nutrient use and mitigating wastage from animals
  • ecological network analysis
  • applied social and economic sciences
  • policy and rural economic development
  • nutritional quality of food and the impact of production systems