NFU Cheshire County Chairman Richard Blackburn and Cheshire County Advisor Helen Wainwright (pictured above) learned about the latest technical innovations at Reaseheath College and University Centre during a fact finding campus tour aimed at strengthening partnerships between the leading land based college and the region’s farmers and food producers.

Their visit highlighted the support and guidance which Reaseheath offers the agricultural and horticultural industries, particularly in green technology skills training for sustainable development towards carbon net zero. Ways of achieving informed business decisions and production efficiencies were discussed, along with opportunities for successful farmers to become further involved in educating the next generation of agricultural students, for instance through apprenticeships, by offering masterclasses, addressing conferences or hosting farm walks.

The tour, hosted by Assistant Principals Sharon Yates and Iain Clarke, and by Head of Business Development Anna Harvey, took in Reaseheath’s new Robotic Milking Centre and associated Data Hub and recently completed Vertical Farming Centre, plus its industry standard Centre for Advanced Engineering and Agri-Technology, Food Centre and Animal Management Centre.

The Robotic Milking Centre has two Lely Astronaut A5 milking stations incorporating sophisticated data processing which deliver readings in areas such as feed intake, milk yield and cow health to large screens in the Data Hub, built in collaboration with Lely. The data is used to provide training in the emerging areas of digitalisation, robotics, sustainability and data-driven dairy management to students, undergraduates, specialist engineers, Lely clients and members of the farming community.

The Vertical Farming Centre, currently being commissioned, is the UK’s largest training and research facility and aims to showcase the technological innovations within this fast growing and specialised sector. It will offer entrepreneurs the chance to learn operational skills and to run small scale trials for start-up or expanding businesses, as well as applied research and technical training opportunities for undergraduates and industry employees.

Richard Blackburn said: “Helen and myself would like to thank Reaseheath for inviting us to represent the NFU Cheshire branch on this tour of the college’s excellent facilities.

“Our visit clearly demonstrated how Reaseheath is investing in the latest innovations and technology to give students the expertise and all important edge when moving from education to their careers. The combined approach of blending education with input from businesses and industries to create a hub of knowledge and learning provides a perfect match for the NFU’s ambitions, particularly as it includes essential health and safety standards. We are looking forward to working closely together.”

Information on agricultural related training courses can be found at:

Information on agricultural diplomas, degrees and apprenticeships can be found at: