School of Biosciences

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Paul Wilson

Head of School, Professor of Agricultural Economics; Director, Rural Business Research Unit; Chief Executive, Rural Business Research, Faculty of Science



Paul's research interests are in the areas of Agricultural Economics and Farm Business Management. Specific research interests include:

  • Agricultural policy, efficiency, and productivity analysis.
  • Farm and farm business decision making.
  • Determinants of variations in farm business income performance.
  • Agricultural-Environmental interactions.
  • Food market analysis of farm to retail food prices.
  • Food consumer behaviour.
  • Applied econometrics.
  • Bioenergy feedstock supply.
  • Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture.

Expertise Summary

Paul's research expertise focuses upon several key themes in agricultural and food economics and farm business management. Understanding and analysing behavioural change in farm business management is achieved through analysis of data collected as part of the annual Farm Business Survey for England. Using data collected from farm survey data, Paul's expertise using applied econometric techniques has focused upon understanding the influence of management, in relation to biographical and managerial practices, in explaining variation in technical efficiency in potato, wheat and dairy production. Adaptation to agri-environmental and market price signals form a further research theme in respect to behavioural change in the context of business management. Understanding consumer behaviour in relation to food purchase decisions, and explaining the economics of the food chain, including the degree to which retail food prices are influenced by changes in farm-gate prices, forms a further research interest that utilises both primary and secondary data sources in relation to food purchase decisions. Understanding farmer behaviour towards growing energy crops or using straw for bioenergy, plus examining trade-offs between financial returns, producing energy and greenhouse gas production from farm activities is an area of ongoing research; these approaches draw upon farm-level survey techniques and bio-economic modelling approaches.

Teaching Summary

Paul's teaching is mainly in the area of agricultural economics and business management. Specifically he teaches on the following modules:

Year 1

  • Biosciences Tutorials

Year 2

  • Professional Skills and Careers
  • Research Techniques for Bioscientists
  • Agri Business Enterprise and Innovation

Year 3

  • Management Consultancy

Masters level

  • Plant Genetic Manipulation
  • Feed Industry Business and Case Studies
  • The Global Food Industry

Research Projects

  • Year 3 projects in Agriculture and Agricultural Business Management

Research Summary

The Rural Business Research Unit (RBRU) undertakes a wide range of economic, management and environmental assessment studies. The Unit undertakes the contract for the Defra-funded Farm Business… read more

Selected Publications

Academic Community: University of Nottingham

Academic Community: External

Current Research

Rural Business Research

The Rural Business Research Unit (RBRU) undertakes a wide range of economic, management and environmental assessment studies. The Unit undertakes the contract for the Defra-funded Farm Business Survey (FBS) in England, as the lead Unit of Rural Business Research (RBR) - a totally independent consortium of leading academic units specialising in rigorous data collection and analysis on economic and environmental issues affecting rural businesses. RBR annually collects and analyses farm and household income data from approximately 1,900 farms across England. The research findings provide feedback to participating farmers and are freely available to all through the Farm Business Survey Government Office Regional Reports; additionally, national results for use in Farm Business Benchmarking are available on-line, with Enterprise and Farm-Type reports forming a further research output with direct industry relevance. Research projects recently building on the FBS include analysis of farmer segmentation groups with respect to farm business performance, published in Land Use Policy.

Economics, Efficiency and Environment: Farm to Fork

Using cross-sectional and panel data, previous research has sought to estimate and explain variation in efficiency and profitability levels in UK potato, wheat and dairy production and current efficiency studies are examining efficiency in the Grain Milling sector in Saudi Arabia. Analysing and predicting loan repayments from farmers in Saudia Arabia forms a further research area. Agri-Environment interactions in Thailand, using bio-economic modelling approaches is linking economic, environment and food security issues. Understanding consumer behaviour in relation to food purchase decisions is a research interest in collaboration with colleagues in Nutritional Sciences, with research recently published in Public Health Nutrition, and ongoing work focusing upon consumer behaviour and food policy in Uganda.


Drawing upon bio-economic modelling and farm-level survey techniques, research into Farm Level Assessments of Bioenergy are a key research area. Funded by the BBSRC as part of their Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC), this work is seeking to explain trade-offs between net energy, financial returns and greenhouse gas emissions at the farm-level given different market, regulatory and policy scenarios in relation to bio-energy and also understanding farmer behaviour and attitudes toward growing dedicated energy crops or using co-products. Recent papers from this work have been published in Agricultural Systems, Biomass and Bioenergy, Applied Energy and Energy Policy. Further bioenergy research includes:

  • HGCA funded work analysing the differences between varieties of winter wheats with respect to their properties as dual purpose (food and biofuel feedstock) crops
  • ESRC funded research in collaboration with colleagues in Sociology and Social Policy is exploring biomass futures in the UK
  • Analysis of the economic and environmental issues of Jatropha production in Ghana

School of Biosciences

University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Nr Loughborough
LE12 5RD, UK

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