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Harper Adams welcomes new chair for Sustainable Beef Production

17 May 2021

An award-winning livestock sustainability consultant and animal scientist has begun a new role – as Harper Adams University’s ABP Chair in Sustainable Beef Production.

Professor Jude Capper’s new role will see her working with both Harper Adams University – where she completed both her undergraduate degree in Agriculture with Animal Science and her PhD – and with ABP, one of the leading firms working in the meat and agri-food sectors in the British Isles.

Working across a range of farms, including the dedicated farm at Harper Adams University and ABP’s demonstration farm in Shropshire, Professor Capper will build on existing work and develop new research.

She said: “It’s increasingly crucial for academics to forge strong strategic partnerships with industry, as our research must be relevant, adoptable and important to the sectors that we serve.

“Given the major role that ABP play in British beef and lamb processing and the importance of ruminant livestock as a key part of UK food production, it’s a great opportunity to investigate, improve and communicate the importance of sustainable UK beef and sheep systems to all stakeholders from the consumer through to the retailer and policymaker.

“As an industry, we must all demonstrate our dedication to reducing environmental impacts and achieving the net zero goals laid out by UK government, through scientific, evidence-based innovations and practices. It’s crucial to determine the key factors and practices that will work synergistically to improve livestock productivity, resource use, greenhouse gas emissions and improve farm profitability, ensuring that British meat retains its position in the national diet.”

Professor Capper was recently presented with the Sir John Hammond Award from the British Society of Animal Science and British Cattle Breeders Club.

The latest award adds to accolades including the 2017 Women in Dairy "Dairy Industry Woman of the Year" award, the 2018 Farmers Guardian British Farming Awards’ “Farming Hero of the Year” prize, and an Honorary Degree from Harper Adams University, which was bestowed at a ceremony earlier this year.

Professor Capper will help to guide the next phase of an ABP multi-level study.

The first phase looked at genetic improvements in beef herds and the positive impact they can have on greenhouse gas emissions, and the next will take a whole-farm approach, examining the effects of improving cattle nutrition, grazing and land management, precision agriculture, technology use and biodiversity.

Dean Holroyd, Group Technical and Sustainability Director, ABP, added: “We are delighted to welcome Jude to this new and exciting post.

“Her appointment further cements the strategic partnership between Harper Adams and ABP Food Group and will help in developing enhanced blueprints for more sustainable beef production in the UK and further afield, whilst also balancing environmental and economic requirements.

“Jude is a global authority on sustainable beef production systems and her cutting-edge insights will also prove invaluable in helping ABP on its journey to Net Zero.”

Professor Capper will also act as mentor to early-career researchers, something she herself benefited from during her studies.

She added: “It’s wonderful to return to Harper Adams University, both to see the amazing changes that have occurred over time – so many new buildings, exciting research projects and excellent facilities - and to have the opportunity to work with colleagues from my BSc (Hons) and PhD days, as well as new researchers.

“British farmers lead the world in sustainable food production – we must identify and nurture the next generation of researchers and teachers so there’s a continuous flow of talent into academia to continue the research that underpins this trend. I’m excited to work with students, staff and researchers - all the way from degree apprentices through to early career researchers - to further develop the tradition of agricultural and environmental excellence at the University.”



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