Academics from Leeds Trinity University have collaborated with a team of social scientists, historians, economists, and epidemiologists from six UK universities to research how livestock disease is influenced.

A group shot of researchers next to a table.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Farm-level Interdisciplinary approaches to Endemic Livestock Disease (FIELD) project aims to advance understandings and inform interventions into endemic livestock disease throughout the north of England. These are complex, longstanding problems that threaten livestock health and welfare, consumer trust, and farming sustainability and profitability.

One of the core project aims is to explore the past, present and future of livestock farming in the UK. As part of FIELD’s exploration of the past, the project’s historians have constructed a timeline of key events in British agricultural history from the early 20th century onwards. These provide an insight into the research, policy and wider socio-cultural factors that have shaped, and continue to shape, UK farming.

Now in its third year, the team have already completed a substantial amount of research, including over 40 interviews with farmers and their advisors, a series of five surveys with farmers and members of the public, and a wealth of archival research.

Professor Karen Sayer is lead academic on the project and Professor of Cultural and Social History at Leeds Trinity University. She specialises in the study of British agriculture, landscape and environment in the 19th and 20th centuries and is working on the project alongside fellow Leeds Trinity academic Dr James Bowen.

Professor Sayer said: “The timeline is a culmination of a lot of hard work by the historians on the FIELD project to bring together several different strands of research into one place. Its accessible and interactive nature makes it a great resource and educational tool for all those interested in UK farming and how it has evolved over the past century.”

Dr Beth Clark, Research Associate at Newcastle University and Public Engagement Officer on the project, said: “The engagement and research activities we have run to date have demonstrated a real interest by the public in farming and desire to learn more, as well as highlighting a desire by farmers for a more representative portrayal of UK farming. Both our continuing research, and the outputs of our three artists’ residencies, should give us plenty to present to different farming stakeholders over the next few months, including the public, with these being used to generate some fruitful conversations and reflections for all involved.”

The FIELD project will be running a range of online and (Covid-19 dependent) in-person events over the next 12 months, featuring a range of artistic and research outputs. To explore the FIELD project timeline, visit the website.

Categories: Research

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