Cambridge University Farm was established at Impington in 1900, just after the establishment of a Department of Agriculture at Cambridge. In 1910 the operation moved to Gravel Hill, just off Huntingdon Road, which is still part of the farm. The Department of Agriculture closed in 1972 and the farm became part of the Department of Applied Biology. The University Farm is now a commercial business, wholly owned by the University of Cambridge and is part of Estate Management.
The Farm currently extends to approximately 2600 acres (1085 hectares), spread around the western edge of Cambridge, from Barton to Lolworth and is also close to the villages of Girton, Coton, Madingley and Hardwick. In places the land abuts onto densely populated areas and here much of the farm is urban rather than rural, with numerous associated problems (trespass, dogs, arson, vandalism, fly tipping). The farm is divided and severely affected by the M11, A14 and A428, which intersect in its centre, as well as Madingley Road and Huntingdon Road. The soils are variable, ranging from a small area of gravel soils adjacent to Huntingdon Road, where the potato agronomy unit is based, to heavy Boulder Clay and even heavier Gault Clay over most of the farm. The majority of the land (66%) is owned by the University, whilst the remainder is tenanted from eight different landlords, including Trinity, St John’s, Jesus, Downing and Girton Colleges, as well as the Cambridge Preservation Society and the Ministry of Defence.
The arable area is approximately 1650 acres (668 hectares), comprising predominantly winter wheat, winter beans and a small area of winter barley. The remaining land is grassland which supports dairy, beef and sheep enterprises. The large-scale keeping of livestock in Cambridgeshire is unusual, but one of the obligations of the University Farm is to provide adequate teaching material for the Department of Veterinary Medicine. The Farm has a large number of relatively small, awkward-shaped fields which are totally unsuited to modern farming activities. The dairy unit was relocated to Park Farm, Madingley in 1997, to make way for development on the West Cambridge Site. Then, as a result of the North West Cambridge site, which will ultimately take approximately 300 acres (122 hectares) of land between Madingley Road, Huntingdon Road and the M11, all the remaining animal housing, grain stores and office space has also been relocated to Park Farm. In association with this move, the dairy unit has been refurbished so that the cows are now accommodated in cubicles and milked automatically by robotics.
Cambridge University Farm