An agricultural centre that aims to equip young people with the skills to work in agriculture is open for business.

Former government chief scientist Sir John Beddington (pictured right) was invited to officially open the new Rural Innovation Centre at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, this week.

The new £1.2m centre at Harnhill Manor Farm will provide an on-site “knowledge hub” for the university’s 1,200 students, wider rural sector and local community.

It has been decked out with classrooms, offices, a demonstration area, community space and meeting rooms.

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The university, together with the Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust, has invested £1.2m in the centre, which was visited by the Prince of Wales prior to its official launch towards the end of last year.

It will enable the sharing of cutting-edge knowledge between those involved in agricultural production and those undertaking applied research, enabling the promotion of education, innovation and knowledge exchange in the field.

RAU principal Professor Chris Gaskell (left) said: “The ambitions for the Rural Innovation Centre underpin the Royal Agricultural University’s goal to play a role in meeting the challenges of sustainably feeding a growing global population while stimulating growth, diverse employment opportunities, and economic activity in rural areas.”