Catalogue description Records of Agricultural Education and Advisory Services

Details of Division within MAF
Reference: Division within MAF
Title: Records of Agricultural Education and Advisory Services

Records of the education and advisory divisions, including those of experimental stations and research councils.

The records relate to:

MAF 383 is not used, as its records have been transferred to a different MAF series.

For information on the appraisal and selection decisions applied to records relating to nature conservation created by Agricultural Education and Advisory Services see Operational Selection Policy OSP10, Nature Conservation in Great Britain 1973 - 1991.

Date: 1888-1985
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Agricultural Development and Advisory Service, 1971-1997

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Advisory Service and Infestation Control Division, 1961-1964

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Advisory Service Division, 1964-1965

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Advisory Service, Labour and Livestock Improvement Division, 1965-1971

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Education and Advisory Services Division, 1955-1961

Physical description: 20 series
Administrative / biographical background:

Advisory Services to 1939

Before 1912 the only direct advice on agricultural problems available to farmers was given informally by the teaching staff of academic institutions and local authorities. The Reay Committee on Agricultural Education recommended in 1908 that itinerant instructors under local authorities should be subsidised by the Board of Agriculture, and the system as adopted developed into a county advisory service on routine agricultural matters. Shortly afterwards the Development and Road Improvements Funds Act 1909 established the Development Fund from which agricultural research, including specialist advisory work, was to be supported.

In consequence, the principal agricultural colleges and university agricultural departments were designated advisory centres, in which various research specialists were employed by the institution at the expense of the Development Fund (as allocated by the Board of Agriculture) to provide technical advice to farmers and others. The country was divided into provinces based on the advisory centres and each centre was intended to cover all major fields; the first advisers were appointed in 1912 and by 1923 most provinces had advisers in agriculture, mycology, botany, entomology, chemistry, veterinary sciences, agricultural economics (including farm management and accounting) and dairy bacteriology. The advisory officers, especially the economists, were also able to provide the Ministry with a monitoring service on local problems and trends, and conferences of advisers in the various subjects were held to promote the exchange of information.

Advisory Services, 1939-1971

At the beginning of the Second World War the War Agricultural Executive Committees had to work more closely with the advisory centres, with some resultant friction. A departmental committee under Professor Scott Watson was established in 1941 to review the policy and structure of the provincial advisory services, and the Luxmoore Committee on Post-War Agricultural Education, appointed at the same time, recommended in 1943 that the two advisory networks be organised as a single service, operated directly by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries from the advisory centres. The various suggestions were incorporated in the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1944 under which, from 1945 all county and provincial advisory services (provincial economists excepted) were assimilated into a National Agricultural Advisory Service (NAAS). The advisory economists remained attached to the universities and colleges, but their subsidy was transferred from the Development Fund to the ministry vote.

Responsibility for managing NAAS lay originally with the Education and Advisory Services Division, which also had control of the Plant Pathology Laboratory in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, and various experimental husbandry farms and experimental horticulture stations. In 1961, the division was merged to form the Advisory Service and Infestation Control Division, though the two divisions were separated again in 1964, when a separate Advisory Service Division was established. In 1965 the division was again merged, to form the Advisory Service, Labour and Livestock Improvement Division, which managed NAAS until 1971.

Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS), 1971-1997

In its first 25 years NAAS had grown considerably in size and complexity, and in order to economise on staff and expenditure and to improve communications between advisory, research and education services produced by the ministry, NAAS was reconstituted as ADAS, from 1 March 1971.

ADAS was constituted outside the divisional structure of the ministry, and instituted its own divisional structure. Under a director general, initially, an Agriculture Division gave advice through a regional and divisional structure. An Engineers Division was able to offer advice on farm machinery etc and a Lands Division gave advice on land usage, drainage and improvement. The Veterinary Division advised on matters of animal health, and ADAS also ran a Veterinary Investigation Service and veterinary laboratories. There were also a team of Special Duty Advisory Officers (dealing with agronomy, husbandry and farm management) and a team of Horticultural Marketing Inspectors. The Science Division undertook research into various aspects of entomology, microbiology, nutritional chemistry, plant pathology and soil science.

ADAS also took over the management of the Plant Pathology Laboratory and the experimental farms and stations. The size and precise structure of ADAS varied considerably between 1971 and 1992, but the same broad areas of advice were covered. In April 1992, ADAS was established as an executive agency with greater independence from direct ministry control. Services to farmers were increasingly offered on a cost recovery or commercial basis, though ADAS continued to perform work on behalf of the ministry on a contract basis. In March 1997 the work of ADAS was split between its commercial and statutory parts. The statutory parts were amalgamated with the ministry's Land Use Planning Unit to form a new executive agency, the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency. The commercial parts were privatised as ADAS Consulting Ltd.

Experimental Farms and Stations

In 1946 NAAS a large number of specialist academic staff with an interest in the experimental agricultural work being done in various ministry and other research establishments. This work had previously been run by county councils and the county War Agricultural Executive Committees. It was soon found that, if NAAS staff were to be in a position to provide the best advice in their region, local interpretation of the results of using innovative faming methods was vital. To provide this local interpretation a number of experimental husbandry farms and horticultural stations were established, intended to cover all major soil types and climates found in the United Kingdom. At the peak of this system there were 13 husbandry farms and 9 horticultural stations.These were run by NAAS (after 1971 ADAS) under the oversight of the various Advisory Services divisions of the ministry.

Research Establishments

State aid for agricultural research effectively began with the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act 1909, which made available funds for agricultural research which were allocated by the Development Commission on the advice of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries. The beneficiaries were independent research establishments, departments of academic institutions and anomalous non-departmental state institutions, notably the Rothamsted Experimental Station, which was endowed and presented to the nation in 1889. Gradually, however, the organisation of fundamental research was taken over by the Agricultural Research Council which was established in 1931 and in 1956 formally assumed full responsibility in this field, maintaining its own institutes and units and administering the state subsidy to others. The ministry maintains close links with all these research establishments and in addition maintains its own centres for applied research - experimental stations, the Infestation Control Laboratory and (formerly as distinct units, but since 1945 as part of the advisory services) the Central Veterinary Laboratory, founded in 1914 and the Plant Pathology Laboratory, founded in 1918. In 1970, the Infestation Control Laboratory was amalgamated with the Agricultural Research Council's Pest Infestation Laboratory under the ministry's control.

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