YORK Outer MP Julian Sturdy has called in Parliament for a GCSE in agriculture to be introduced.

The Tory MP said that only students in Northern Ireland currently had the option of studying for a secondary qualification in agriculture, and claimed the course should be available to students right across the country.

He said that with cutting-edge advancements, there was high demand for skills in applied science and new technologies. “Robotics, biotechnology, gene editing and data science will all become increasingly established in the farming sector,” he said.

“A school leaver entering the farming sector in the next few years could expect to use GPS technologies to harvest wheat, driverless tractors, drones to deliver herbicide to weeds on a precision basis, grow wheat with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and new technologies that will drive up animal welfare, such as robotic milking parlours.”

Anne Milton, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, said there was a tendency for rural areas to be forgotten but she would not forget them ‘because it is important.’