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The first phase of £9million development works at Wiltshire College & University Centre’s specialist land-based campus is under way.
The former animal centre and outdoor enclosures at Lackham have been demolished to make way for modern, industry-standard facilities, which are currently under construction.
Work began in September and has seen former classrooms and science labs transformed into an impressive exotic centre featuring large vivaria, which will house reptiles, birds and fish.
The development forms part of a £22million investment by Swindon and Wilshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) into the Salisbury and Lackham campuses, to meet the rural skills requirements of the region for the future.
The project at Lackham, has already seen the transformation of the manor house into a Higher Education Teaching Centre, enabling the college to grow its university level offering over the next two years to include degrees in environmental science and sustainability and HNDs in agri-tech and agri-business management.
It will also see the construction of an agri-tech hub, work for which starts this month and a state-of-the-art robotic dairy that will enhance training, creating farmers for the future and provide equipment to increase skills in the industry nationwide.
Ian Revill, assistant principal for Lackham said,“It is an exciting time at Lackham.
“The new buildings will increase aspirations for our higher education students and provide an exciting space to show visitors what’s going on around the campus.
“The lobby of the agri-tech hub will house screens streaming work around the campus, and display data from our new robotic dairy, all supporting Lackham to be an industry leader in dairy engineering.”
With the anticipated arrival of a Delaval robotic dairy this academic year, Lackham is also poised to add an HND in dairy engineering to the curriculum.
The robotic dairy, an intelligent automated system that monitors cows’ health and allows them to come and go for milking as they please, will allow the college to address a national skills-gap in the dairy industry, providing training for students and professionals alike.
Lackham farm manager Philip Steans said, “The robotic dairy will improve life for our herd and assist farm staff on a daily basis.
“Not only this, but milking could increase from twice a day for each cow to potentially as high as five times a day and increase each cow’s yield from 10,200 litres per year, to as many as 12,000 litres. This is achieved at the same time as improving the welfare of the cows through stress reduction and the offering of more choice in their daily activities.”
For anyone wanting to find out more information about what Lackham has to offer or see the developments on campus, visit the next open event on Saturday 1st February, from 10-12noon. You can also find out more via the website – www.wiltshire.ac.uk.