Our farm at Sonning recently threw open its five-bar gates to the public as part of the national Open Farm Sunday event. Anna Thompson from the Centre for Dairy Research  talks us through some pictures from the day.

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What will Reading look like in 30 years‘ time? How can we ensure there will be jobs, living spaces and facilities that we can enjoy in a sustainable way? The Reading 2050 project, including Professor Tim Dixon from the School of the Built Environment, has led development of a vision for Reading 2050 in consultation with local communities, organisations and businesses. Tim is hosting a series of public lectures to encourage debate on delivering the vision.  On 28 June, he will welcome Natalie Ganpatsingh, from Reading-based Nature Nurture and on 18 July, Dr Eugene Mohareb and Dr Daniela Perrotti from the School of the Built Environment, University of Reading will be speaking. Tim explains more.

The Reading 2050 project was established in 2013 to deliver a strategic, long-term vision that will support growth and prosperity, and help ensure that a truly smart and sustainable city can be delivered by 2050. The project was ‘co-created’ as a partnership between the University of Reading (School of the Built Environment), a planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore, and Reading UK.

The vision was developed through a series of workshops and activities with a wide range of organisations and residents from across Reading and the Thames Valley region and was launched in October 2017.  It has been cited in the Government Office of Science Future of Cities Foresight Programme and final report (2014-16) and directly supports Reading Borough Council’s statutory Local Plan and Corporate Plan. The project was also recently shortlisted for an award in the University of Reading’s Research Engagement and Impact Awards 2018.

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In a new post for The Conversation, Dr Ruvi Zeigler says the fate of the recently stranded boat carrying African migrants highlights the shaky state of the EU’s asylum system.

The fate of the Aquarius, a Doctors without Borders rescue ship left stranded for hours in the Mediterranean carrying 629 African migrants, is a stark reminder of the EU’s ongoing stalemate on asylum policy.

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Research that is helping to save children’s lives in rural India, protecting endangered species in Africa, and opening children’s eyes to science in the UK are among those shortlisted for the University of Reading’s Research Engagement and Impact Awards 2018.

Two of last year’s Impact and Engagement Award finalists, Dr Teresa Murjas and Dr Kate Allen.

The awards, which are in their second year, aim to recognise staff at the University of Reading who have achieved extraordinary things by interacting with people in the real world to drive better understanding of research and bring about change.

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Sainfoin is a plant that’s been grown by farmers for centuries to feed livestock, but its use has declined in recent decades. Research led by Professor Irene Mueller-Harvey and others has investigated the plant’s bioactive components – tannins. And it’s sparking a revival in its use. Reading’s Dr Sokratis Stergiadis tells us about a recent open day to explain the benefits of growing Sainfoin to farmers.

Sainfoin is a drought-resistant forage crop that fixes nitrogen and helps prevent parasitic worm infections in cattle. It also improves meat quality, helps to reduce methane production in cattle and encourages pollinating insects.

To encourage more farmers to grow Sainfoin and to share the science behind its beneficial effects, researchers from the University of Reading teamed up with staff from Cotswolds Seeds Ltd, Sainfoin’s main supplier in the UK, to host an Experience Day for 50 farmers at Honeydale Farm in Gloucestershire.

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Last week, volunteers who produce neighbourhood plans for local housing and the environment came together at a University of Reading event to share their experiences and address the emerging barriers to progress. Gavin Parker, Professor of Planning Studies, explains more.

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Wind turbines in the Seychelles – picture: IEA

Researchers working across national borders feature prominently in the latest group of University of Reading academics to be awarded research funding.

In total, £12.5 million of funds were awarded during the third quarter of 2017-18, to 80 projects across all five research themes at Reading: Environment, Food, Health, Heritage & Creativity and Prosperity & Resilience.

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Global warming is accelerating as time passes. Models predict that trend is set to continue even if we manage to rein in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere – but why? On World Oceans Day, Dr Paulo Ceppi explains that it’s all down to increasingly cloudless skies over the Pacific Ocean.

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Dr Alina Tryfonidou explores a landmark EU Court of Justice ruling which provides greater clarity and legal certainty for same-sex couples who get married in an EU member state, in a new post for The Conversation

Image credit: May S Young (Flickr), CC-BY-2.0

In an historic ruling for the rights of same-sex couples, the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) has held that for the purposes of EU free movement law, the notion of a “spouse” includes the same-sex spouse of an EU citizen.

The case was referred to the ECJ from the Romanian Constitutional Court which was confronted with a dispute between a couple, Adrian Coman, a Romanian national, and Claibourn Hamilton, a US national, and the Romanian authorities. After living for a number of years in Belgium, where the couple married, Coman wished to return to Romania with his spouse. But Hamilton was refused the right to reside in Romania as Coman’s husband, on the grounds that Romania does not recognise same-sex marriage.

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Our native language and emotions are closely woven together. Being bilingual offers an emotional detachment that can be useful for reasoning, but which also makes it easier to swear, says David Miller in a new post for The Conversation.

Image credit: BeelginCC-BY-2.0  

A taxi driver recently cut me up on the motorway. Without hesitation, I machine-gunned a string of vulgarity at the poor man. What struck me was that every word that came out of my mouth was in Spanish. As a native speaker of English, having learned Spanish as an adult, English should have been the more readily accessible language. Yet there I was, cussing out this stranger in Mexican-accented Spanish alongside an assortment of inappropriate hand gestures.

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