Academic Institutions

Twenty academic or teaching institutions are currently (2014) conducting some form of agroecological research. Of these, only three (Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR), Schumacher College and Emerson College) overtly specialise in agroecology or ecological agriculture, while the rest have a research focus on particular aspects of sustainable agriculture. Both Schumacher College and Emerson College offer training in sustainable or biodynamic horticulture/food production, but do not appear to have specific research programmes. Many universities and agricultural departments have established Centres or Institutes with the remit of addressing issues of sustainable land use, agri-environmental research, rural development and natural resource use, where a range of research is carried out into how conventional farms may become more sustainable. Other departments have a particular national role, such as the Rural Business Unit at Cambridge University, which is responsible for collecting and processing the data from the Farm Business Survey. You will find below a brief outline institutions undertaking agroecological research at the time of writing (2014), with more detailed information on key institutions provided via the links below and in the left-hand menu.

Agroecology Group, James Hutton Institute
Interactions between plants, animals, soils, weeds, microbes.

Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University
Food sovereignty and democratisation of agriculture; alternative food networks and short supply chains; low carbon systems; biodiversity in agriecosystems; closing nutrient loops by using human waste.

Centre for Rural Policy Research, Exeter University
Rural Futures Programme to secure sustainable future for agrofood systems and rural economies in Devon; socio economic aspects of local and national organic farming markets; social capital and land use, succession issues.

Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI), University of Gloucestershire
Assessment of various schemes, including Local Food Programme, Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, SOLINSA (Support of Learning and Innovation Networks for Sustainable Agriculture), reducing threats to soils from climate change.

Cranfield University
Soil resources, biodiversity and ecosystems, sustainable land systems, agroforestry, systems analysis and modelling.

Essex Sustainability Institute, University of Essex
Interdepartmental Institute co-ordinating research on all aspects of sustainability (established by Jules Pretty); conservation agriculture; labour on organic farms.

Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences (IBERS), University of Aberystwyth
Plant breeding to alleviate impacts of climate change; ecological impacts of climate change.

Nafferton Ecological Farming Group, Newcastle University
Role of invertebrates in agroecosystems; conservation of biodiversity; comparisons of organic and conventional systems; market information for organic growers to aid direct marketing; identification of breeds suitable for low input farming.

Organic Centre Wales, University of Aberystwyth
Horticulture, poultry, soil and fertility management.

Royal Agricultural College
A PhD student (Fredrico Fillipi) is looking at permaculture and traditional farming systems from around the world.

Rural Business Unit, Cambridge University
Agricultural and horticultural economics; Farm Business Survey.

School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University
Agroforestry, environmental monitoring.

Schumacher College
MSc Sustainable Horticulture and Food Production producing orginal research via masters level theses.

SRUC, Scotland's Rural College
Farm systems assessment of bioenergy; plant soil interactions; agricultural and environmental systems analysis; bio-economic modelling to analyse trade-offs between farm level finances, net energy and greenhouse gas emissions; modelling and surveys to improve understanding of agrienvironmental systems.

Sutton Bonnington, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Nottingham University
Bio-economic modelling to analyse trade-offs between farm level finances, net energy and greenhouse gas emissions; modelling and surveys to improve understanding of agrienvironmental systems.