Crop and Environment Research Centre (CERC)

The Crop and Environment Research Centre (CERC) is Harper Adams' specialist centre for teaching and research into crop science, technology and the environmental implications of modern crop production. Its main areas of endeavour involve producing both food and non-food crops by sustainable methods. Crop protection is an important research area, including forecasting, diagnostics, bio-control, novel forms of control and the implications for food and environmental safety, post-harvest quality, efficient use of water by plants, and the impact of production systems on biodiversity.

CERC is accredited by the Pesticide Safety Directorate to conduct efficacy trials on agricultural, horticulturaland stored crops. Within this purpose-built research centre, academic staff carry out a wide range of commercial and teaching crop trials and research projects. Research staff have access to first class facilities including the University Farm, biotechnology laboratories, engineering workshops and a national network of trial sites. There are modern field laboratories, and field trials currently exceed 60 hectares with more than 5,000 trial plots. Several glass houses with facilities including seven 6m by 5m computer controlled growing compartments, one air-conditioned, two accredited isolation houses and an aphid proof house. The protected cropping is supplemented by poly-tunnels, enabling important non-field based crop trials to be undertaken.

The combination of expertise, location and facilities enables CERC to carry out major contracts for government, farmer-funded bodies and private clients. As well as research, CERC facilitates crop demonstrations which underpin undergraduate, postgraduate and Continuing Professional Development training.

Natural England Plots

Environmental Stewardship Demonstration Plots for Natural England, which are managed by CERC at Harper Adams.

  • Over 80 plots of wild bird seed mixes, flower-rich grass margins, pollen and nectar plots available in a number of paid options under Environmental Stewardship.
  • Each option in farm reality can play a major role in reducing the decline in farmland birds and boosting habitat for invertebrates including butterflies and bumblebees.
  • The plots are available as a demonstration to farming and agronomy groups and as a resource for lectures and training, be it for environmental management or to discuss food production in relation to environmental schemes.

Polytunnels

CERC has a number of polytunnels which are used for research:

  • Fertiliser effect on keep-ability of green crops such as lettuce, onions and cabbages.

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