A NEW era has begun at one of the UK's leading agricultural colleges, with the appointment of its first female farm manager.

Chantelle Astley has taken up the post at Askham Bryan College near York with immediate effect, moving from her former role as an agricultural lecturer.

She has responsibility for the two farms, which comprise 280 hectares and include both livestock and arable enterprises, and the college said her appointment reinforced their commitment to greater integration between students' practical and classroom learning.

Chief executive Catherine Dixon said: “Chantelle brings expertise and enthusiasm to our farm management, which I am sure will be an inspiration to our young people.”

From a non-farming background, Chantelle's interest was triggered at the age of eight when she began helping a neighbour with the milking. “That was it. I knew farming was something I wanted to do," she said.

After gaining a degree in agriculture, she qualified as a teacher then began farming with her husband near York where she is still plays an active role. Her connection with Askham Bryan began in 2011 when she joined the agriculture department as a part time lecturer.

“I love teaching. I'm passionate about British agriculture and am driven by wanting young people to get into it," she said,

"There are obstacles and it's hard work but it's so rewarding. We need to be the best of the best, a shop window for the industry so we're inspiring students both here and beyond the college gates that British agriculture is amazing, the finest in the world.”