Innovative Agri Centre Officially Opens

A £2.4m agriculture and engineering hub at York’s Askham Bryan College has now been officially opened providing a practical and innovative centre for its students and a valuable training resource and link with industry.

The new Lance Gilling Building lies at the heart of the college’s York campus, and features a suite of lecture rooms with the latest IT technology, farm information room, offices and a 900square metre double height work shop with specialist equipment. It will be the focus of the practical studies by the 300 or so students studying agriculture and land based engineering and complements existing facilities on the site.

The opening was carried out by Nigel Pulling, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and the building is named after the late Lance Gilling, a leading agriculturalist and the college’s longest serving Principal. Guests at the launch included our chair Mr Barry Dodd, CBE and chief operating officer James Farrar.

Mr Farrar said: “This is all about having world class facilities in our area to help us achieve our global ambitions in the industry. Last year the college delivered the UK’s first degree level apprenticeships in agriculture and this year offers a degree in agriculture for the first time. These are just a couple of examples of how our area is leading the way, and these latest facilities will help us continue to do so.”

Speaking of the college’s commitment to investing in the agricultural industry, Campus Principal, Dr Tim Whitaker said: “It is vital for us to ensure our students graduate with a deep understanding and all the technical competencies needed in precision agriculture and on the connected farm. Askham Bryan College has been a trail blazer in providing first class education and practical experience for young people.”

He referred to the significant investment made in the infra structure and emphasised the importance of the college’s strong industry relationships. He commented: “The LEP has invested and developed the bio-economy and agri tech within the Yorkshire region substantially. This building, as a joint venture with the LEP is tangible proof of that.” The building is also home to AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Training Board) and the Rural Business Research Unit. It is also used as a training centre by Trimble, a leading provider of advanced location equipment.

Mr Pulling outlined the synergy and strong relationship between the college and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. “We both strive to be a positive force helping farming and land based industries progress and be as successful as possible in a rapidly changing world. If we want a successful rural sector we need a well trained and well educated work force. Having the best buildings and equipment is an important part of this.”

Describing Mr Gilling as a pivotal and inspirational industry leader, Mr Pulling added: “We need to encourage and train the future Lance Gillings. For this we need the highest quality facilities and staff. This new building underlines the College’s commitment to land based education and is symbolic of Askham Bryan’s continued progress to be at the leading edge of education and training.”

Askham Bryan College is the fastest growing college in England (Landex 2016) specialising in further and higher education across the rural sector, including agriculture, horticulture, engineering, animal management and countryside management. It has centres across the North of England, including Cumbria and the North East.