ADR UK invests further funding in AD|ARC: A UK-wide agricultural data programme

Now at the end of phase one funding, AD|ARC is securely linking de-identified agricultural datasets with the Census of Population and the Inter-Departmental Business Register. This core, research dataset is also being linked to de-identified health and education data across the UK to create the first UK-wide, research-ready datasets on farmers and farming households.

The additional funding provided through the ADR UK research-ready data and access call will be used to update and expand the data resources in England, Scotland, and Wales. The enhanced datasets will be used to carry out more ambitious research across the UK on changing farm demographics, farm household economic activities, and the links between household circumstances and land use patterns.

Farming remains hugely significant in the UK. It contributes to the rural economy, provides the nation with food and has a major influence on natural habitats and the wider environment. Farmers and farm households also underpin the social cohesion of sparsely populated rural areas. However, the relationship between these activities is poorly understood and better evidence is needed to support the provision of services and development of policies.

Helen Hoult, Head of Farming Statistics at Defra, said: “I am pleased to see that AD|ARC has secured funding for a phase 2 update of the collection, including the 2021 Population Census.  By joining up farming and Census data, AD|ARC is a promising source of research that could give us insights into the wider pressures affecting farming on health, lifestyle, education and well-being and the factors that affect these.”


Updated and improved data resources

Over the coming two years, researchers will update existing datasets for AD|ARC and integrate additional data on:

  • animal health
  • land use and flooding
  • economics.

This will enable deeper analysis of more recent data, widen the programme’s scope, and build capacity for longitudinal studies.

Each nation (England, Scotland, and Wales) will build separate, complementary data resources that enable UK-wide analysis. In parallel, the programme will work with Northern Ireland to develop a 2021 Census Agricultural Research Study building on the 2011 version.

Insights to shape agricultural policy

Using the additional funding, the AD|ARC team will also investigate the characteristics of farming households and how these change over time. They will also examine interactions between farm household characteristics, land use patterns, and engagement with environmental programmes. Education data will be used to look into the influence of educational attainment on life opportunities. Early pathfinder research such as this has the potential to drive real and positive policy change in the farming sector.

AD|ARC will continue to be led by Dr Paul Caskie of the Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute Northern Ireland along with Swansea University.

Dr Paul Caskie, Principal Investigator, said “The AD|ARC team is delighted that the project has received new funding and excited by the prospect of doing more cutting-edge research on a range of policy relevant topics that impact the lives of farmers and farm households”.

This project has been assessed and selected in close partnership with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and will join the ADR England portfolio. AD|ARC datasets will be available for accredited researchers to apply to use in the ONS Secure Research Service. Data made available to researchers to facilitate these projects has been de-identified, and rigorous safeguards are in place to ensure data is kept secure and research is for the public good.

This is the ninth project to receive ADR UK grant funding as part of the research-ready data and access funding opportunity. We have previously announced six academic-led projects covering a diverse range of topics, as well as renewed funding for Wage and Employment Dynamics and Ministry of Justice Data First. More information on the two remaining funded projects will be available soon.



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