Photo of Professor Matt Lobley

Professor Matt Lobley

Research Interests

My research largely focuses on understanding influences on and impacts of farm household behaviour. In particular, my main interests relate to the role of farm households in the management of the countryside, for example, through exploring the impact of CAP reform; attitudes towards agri-environmental policy; and the environmental and social impacts of agricultural restructuring. More recently, I have developed an interest in the well-being of rural households. I also have a long standing interest in family life-cycle and succession issues on family farms and co-direct a collaborative international project (FARMTRANSFERS) exploring farm succession and retirement in a range of different social, economic and political contexts. Beyond agriculture and the environment, other research interests include the design and impact of rural development initiatives and, more broadly, the social sustainability of rural communities.

Since 1998 I have undertaken research on family farming in the south west England, specifically focusing on the process of entry to and exit from farming and also exploring the impact on personal well-being of strategies to remain in farming.

I am also co-leader of FarmCat, a project exploring the impact of farmer training and landscape context on the outcomes of agri-environmental schemes (funded under the Rural Economy and land Use Programme). Recent major research projects include a Defra funded project examining the pattern and implications of agricultural restructuring in England (Click here to download report) and a project exploring the impact of organic farming on the rural economy in England (Click here to download final report).

I am a co-director of FARMTRANSFERS, an international research project examining the pattern and process of retirement and succession on family farms. For further information on FARMTRANSFERS and details of how to carry out a survey using the FARMTRANSFERS questionnaire� contact Matt Lobley, John Baker (at Iowa State University) or Ian Whitehead (at Plymouth University).

Selected current and recent projects

  • Sustainable Intensification Platform Project 2: Opportunities and risks for farming and the environment at landscape scales (Defra, 2014-2017)
  • Sustainable Intensification Platform Project 1: Integrated farm management for improved economic, environmental and social performance (Defra, 2014-2017)
  • Family Business Growth Programme (Defra, 2013-2014)
  • Monitoring the Brue Valley Living Landscape Landowner Advisory Service (Somerset Wildlife Trust, 2013)
  • Validation of fertiliser manuel (RB209) recommendations for grasslands (Defra, 2012-2014)
  • Research to inform the farming help charities: agricultural trends in the SW and leaving farming (Farming Help Charities, 2012-13)
  • South West Agricultural Resource Management (Defra/SWRDA, 2012-2013)
  • The Impact of Social Purpose Organisations on skills and training in the Okehampton area (SW Forum/Big Lottery Fund, 2011-2013)
  • Making Land Available for Woodland Creation (Forestry Commission, 2011-2012)
  • A Review of Cornwall's Agri-food Industry (Cornwall Development Company, 2011)
  • Economic Impact Assessment of Bovine Tuberculosis in the South West (National Farmers Union, 2010)
  • Sustainable Rural Futures Research Programme (Devon County Council, 2009-2014)
  • Processes of Technical Change in British Agriculture: Innovation in the farming of South Wes tEngland, 1935-1985 (ESRC, 2009-2013)
  • Griff Davies Legacy: Entry to and exit from farming: implications for the well-being of farm household members in the South West (2006-2014)
  • ESRC/RELU: Improving the success of agri-environment initiatives: the role of farmer learning and landscape context (with CEH, IGER & Reading, 2006-2011)
  • Food production, processing and distribution in Cornwall (Objective 1/Taste of the West, 2006)
  • Green Futures: Practical environmental enhancements in the South West's improved grasslands (with IGER, 2005-2006). Funded through the SW Regional Food and Farming Strategy
  • Social implications of changes in the structure of agricultural businesses (DEFRA, 2004-05)
  • Rural Stress Review (Rural Stress Information Network, 2003-2004)
  • The contribution of organic farming to the rural economy (DEFRA, 2003-05)
  • Environmental and economic implications of changes in the structure of agricultural business (DEFRA, 2001-02)
  • Family farming on the edge? Adaptability and change in farm households (Co Ag, 2001-02)

Research Supervision

Currently co-supervising 2 PhD students

  • Caroline Nye: Agriucltural Labour in the UK: Change and Challenge in the Transition to Sustainable Intensification
  • Suzanna Metz: Church and Rural Society