Plumpton College has been awarded £4.4 million in funding to invest in a new centre for training, education and skills development in the South East.
Work has begun on the new Agri-Food Hub being built in the heart of the 2500-acre campus near Lewes. The centre will provide the Agriculture, Food and wider land management industries with up-to-date skills training and support for rural businesses post-Brexit. The hub is due to be completed winter 2022.
The two-storey building is collaboratively funded by the college, South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), Virgin Money & East Sussex County Council and will create a network hub for knowledge transfer, training and business improvement.
The hub will include:
Protecting the Estate
Whilst undertaking construction work, the college is also ensuring it upholds its environment strategy and management of the estate as a custodian of the South Downs National Park. The hub will be built to the highest sustainability standards and carry a BREAM rating of excellent, have a sedum roof, a smart building management system and draw heat for a biomass plant. Habitat and biodiversity improvements including enhanced planting, hedgerow planting schemes in partnership with Sussex Wildlife Trust and creation of new habitats across the campus are already taking place.
Principal Jeremy Kerswell shares:
“Post-Brexit, our sector is going to now rely on a better supply of more highly trained, educated and entrepreneurial entrants. There is a national shortage of skilled technicians in the land-based sector.
These facilities will allow the college to meet the skill demand through opportunities that are not currently delivered elsewhere in the South East such as teaching in Agri-Food sectors in butchery and bakery. The extra capacity, utilising the latest technology will allow for better research and innovation for these industries and a specialist space for rural businesses to connect, stimulate and embed business improvements and policy, and build links with export markets.”
Plumpton College which boasts one of the largest college farms in the country, have been investing in improvements to its Farm Enterprise, including farm animal production technologies for its sheep and beef facilities and a new £1.2m pig unit. The existing dairy unit now includes the latest automated Lely A5 astronaut milking stations and improvements to cow welfare also sponsored by Lely Atlantic.
New Biosecurity Centre
From September 2022, access to the farm for all visitors and staff will now be through a new Biosecurity centre, designed to meet industry standards in the management of animal health and welfare. It will ensure all visitors have the correct PPE and briefing before entering Lambert Farm to keep all staff, students and livestock safe. The farm can now also be accessed via a new visitor walkway over the farm into the dairy viewing platform and teaching facilities without the need to go into animal areas.
Investments in Agri-Tech
Lambert Farm has also secured sponsorship from Lely Atlantic for the latest Agri-Tech developments for the dairy industry. Earlier this year a Juno automatic feed pusher and Discovery automatic barn cleaner were both installed. Over time, the dairy herd will be split to showcase two different milking systems. 120 high index cows averaging 12000l per cow from the existing high-yield pedigree Holstein herd are being taught how to milk themselves using the automatic milking robots. The remaining cows will be increased to 150 cows and cross breeding plan implemented. This herd will be managed more traditionally, yielding 8000l per cow with emphasis on milk from forage using rotational grazing platform during the summer. This ensures the future farming generation is industry leading upon graduation, capable of utilising different systems in the workplace.
New Meat Processing Centre
Plumpton College is responding to national food skills shortages by opening a brand-new specialist meat processing education and training facility at its college farm.
The college is one of the only providers in the South East where students can train as an apprentice butcher. The new meat processing centre at Lambert Farm has been funded by the Rural Payments Agency and the South East Enterprise Partnership to help farms diversify and become more resilient.
The centre, which can accommodate up to 12 students each at their own butcher block, includes facilities to showcase every aspect of butchery to the students that they may utilise within the workplace.
The facility is unique in that it is at the heart of the college commercial farm which includes beef, sheep and pig enterprises. This offers students an enriching experience not on offer anywhere else, from farm to fork, spending time gaining insights from our farm and agriculture team with the animals, through to processing skills and then finally the supply route to market through our retail space and butchery counter at One Garden Brighton.
New Farrow to finish pig unit
Lambert farm has also recently upgraded its piggery facilities, moving to new modern housing utilising the latest automatic Agri-Tech from NEDAP for feeding and bedding, to improve welfare and showcase industry developments to students. The high welfare unit produces farm-assured Red Tractor Pork. The pigs will have improved space, bedding and ventilation, including improved welfare for farrowing sows.
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