Landscape photo of research team outside with grey table

At Leeds Trinity University, we are working to establish a reputation as a centre of research and knowledge exchange excellence, working with businesses and the wider community to share ideas, research and skills.

Establishing this research culture through knowledge exchange will also enable us to work collaboratively with other higher education institutions, something which I have had the opportunity to do recently.

Working with a team of social scientists, historians, economists, and epidemiologists from six UK universities, together we are researching how livestock disease is influenced by nature, culture, science, society, and the actions of humans and livestock. As a specialist in the study of British agriculture, landscape and environment in the 19th and 20th centuries, I am the lead academic on the project and fellow Leeds Trinity academic Dr James Bowen is also a member of the research team.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Farm-level Interdisciplinary approaches to Endemic Livestock Disease (FIELD) project aims to advance understandings and inform future generations of endemic livestock disease throughout the north of England. These are complex, longstanding problems that threaten livestock health and welfare, consumer trust, and farming sustainability and profitability.

One of our core project aims is to explore the past, present and future of livestock farming in the UK. The engagement and research activities we have run to date have demonstrated a real interest by the public in farming and desire to learn more, as well as highlighting a desire by farmers for a more representative portrayal of UK farming. As part of FIELD’s exploration of the past, the project’s historians have constructed a timeline of key events in British agricultural history from the early 20th century onwards. These provide an insight into the research, policy and wider socio-cultural factors that have shaped, and continue to shape, UK farming. This past work will also help to shape our future work and research.

Now in its third year, our team has already completed a substantial amount of research, including over 40 interviews with farmers and their advisors, a series of five surveys with farmers and members of the public, and a wealth of archival research.

The timeline is a culmination of a lot of hard work by the historians on the FIELD project to bring together several different strands of research into one place. Its accessible and interactive nature makes it a great resource and educational tool for all those interested in UK farming and how it has evolved over the past century.

The FIELD project will be running a range of online and (Covid-19 dependent) in-person events over the next 12 months, featuring a range of artistic and research outputs. To explore the FIELD project timeline, visit the website.

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