AN agricultural college is investing in a £1.7 million livestock centre to showcase precision livestock farming.

The news comes after Askham Bryan College, in York, was one of nine education providers to benefit from £10m of capital funding from the Department of Education.

The investment will see a purpose-built livestock centre created as a beef finishing and calf rearing facility, refurbishment of the college’s existing beef unit, and an additional classroom and car park.

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society, organisers of the Great Yorkshire Show, welcomed the news.

Charles Mills, show director, said: “This investment is great news for the future of our industry and positions Askham Bryan College at the forefront of innovative practice in what is increasingly a highly technical industry.

“We need young people to be inspired by the food and farming sector and the careers it offers and this next step in the development of the college’s farm will help provide the facilities and skills foundation to achieve that.

“It’s good news for the college, but also for agriculture as whole.”

Adam Bedford, NFU North East regional director, said:“This tremendous investment in the future of farming in Yorkshire will help cement a growing reputation for agri-tech excellence – with the region already home to leading research universities, two national agri-tech centres for crop health and livestock and the national food and environment research agency, Fera Science.”

“Our industry is facing huge challenges – not least to produce more food for a growing population while delivering more for the environment. To achieve this, we will have to work smarter, not harder and the new facilities at Askham Bryan will help ensure that the next generation of Yorkshire farmers will be leading to charge to develop the productive, innovative and sustainable farm businesses of the future.”

Askham Bryan chief executive Catherine Dixon said: “This funding will greatly assist us in further developing highly skilled, technically adept students and complements our most recent work creating the digital farm for our dairy cattle and our agri-business centre.

“As an educational training centre, the importance of animal health and welfare is at the heart of our teaching as we showcase best practice to the next generation of Britain’s farmers and industry leaders,” said Catherine.

The college has 5,000 students with about 2,000 using the York campus farm, as part of their studies in agriculture, animal management and agricultural engineering.

It is also an important centre for training apprentices. It is anticipated that ground works will begin in the next few months.