Our research and facilities
Our research is driven by the key challenges that we face in the world today and aligns closely with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We live in an ever-changing world where global challenges such as poverty, hunger, climatic and environmental change are closely linked and associated with agricultural and food systems. Our research helps to address these major challenges and provides policy makers with relevant scientific evidence to make informed decisions.
We do this by undertaking inter- and multi-disciplinary research, collaborating widely with scientists and stakeholders across the world. The School of Agriculture, Policy and Development's research staff span a range of disciplines across both the natural and social sciences, from economists and anthropologists to animal, crop and environmental scientists – all co-located within a single School. Our global research reputation is evidenced by our top 12 position within the QS Subject rankings for Agriculture and Forestry in 2021.
Research with an impact
The excellence of our research was highlighted by the 2014 Research Excellent Framework (REF) results, where more than 80% of our research was rated as internationally excellent and 45% as world-leading. A further demonstration of the importance of our work to society is highlighted by the fact that 85% of our research impacts were rated as world-leading.
Our research is organised around five academic departments:
Sustainable Land Management, which focuses on the dynamics of agro-ecosystems, and the services they provide (including food, fuel and fibre) in a changing environment.
Crop Science, which tackles issues such as the sustainable intensification of crop production systems, technological innovation, horticulture, and new crop growing technologies and systems.
Agri-Food Economics and Marketing, which focuses on the relationship between agro-ecosystems, food production and the food consumer.
International Development, which focuses on the interfaces between environment, people and development, in relation to contemporary international development debates.
Animal Sciences, which focuses on the links between food, diet and health and includes understanding the environmental cost of using animals as food producers.
Our research and research staff also play key roles in the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health, Agrimetrics, the Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, the Farm Management Unit, the Agriculture and Food Investigation Team, Centre for Agricultural Strategy, and the Walker Institute, which are based in the Agriculture Building and facilitate cross-campus interdisciplinary research.
The Centre for Dairy Research
Located at the University's Shinfield Farm and established in 1992, The Centre for Dairy Research (CEDAR) is a unique, modern scientific facility for applied and strategic large animal research, including studies concerning milk composition and human health, dairy cow nutrition, and the environmental impacts of meat and milk production.
The Crop Research Unit
- Our 180-hectare Sonning farm is home to our 12-hectare Crop Research Unit and our 360 dairy youngstock.
- We study horticulture, and rear young stock and beef calves; these dairy replacements are the progeny of high-genetic merit Holstein sires and are returned to Shinfield to calve at two years.
Crop and Environment Laboratory
- A dedicated, controlled environment facility for crop science research that comprises plant growth chambers, controlled greenhouses, and modified polytunnels.
- Research focuses on how climate variability and change affect crop productivity, the interactions between crop genotype and environment, horticulture, and how the crop growing environment affects crop quality and food safety.
National Fruit Collection
- Based at Brogdale Farm, the National Fruit Collection is curated and maintained by Reading in collaboration with the Farm Advisory Services Team on behalf of the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is one of the largest fruit collections in the world.
- Includes more than 3,500 named apple, pear, plum, cherry, bush fruit, vine and cob nut cultivars.
Specialist Analytical and Research Laboratories
- We have a number of special facilities that allow us to conduct a wide breadth of research. These facilities include the Mycorrhiza Laboratory, Environmental Laboratories, Plant Pathology Laboratory, Molecular Genetics Laboratory, and Analytical Laboratories.
International Cocoa Quarantine Centre
- The exchange of germplasm is important for cocoa breeding and many related activities. Our facility ensures that this vital need can be satisfied without transferring pests and diseases from one cocoa-growing region to another.