FARMERS are getting more involved in agricultural research thanks to a collaboration between five universities across the country.
The Centre for Effective Innovation in Agriculture, which includes the University of Reading, will look to address the gap between scientific research on innovation and real-life farming experience. £1.5m of charitable funding, including from the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust and from each university.
Dr David Rose, Elizabeth Creak associate professor of Agricultural Innovation and Extension at the University of Reading said: “Farming needs to change fast to meet the challenges of our time, including tackling climate change, loss of biodiversity and food-related illness, and ensuring resilient and secure food supply chains.
“Although UK public spending on agri-tech R&D is consistently above £300 million per annum, the adoption of research-led innovation is patchy. Crucially, there is currently no dedicated initiative to target research funding where it will be most relevant on the ground.”
Paul May, chair of the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust, said it can be hard for farmers to marry their efforts between productivity, sustainability and resilience when funding support isn’t targeted in the right area.
“There is a growing movement of independent farmer-led innovation networks that tries to plug this gap,” he said. “Rather than simply chip in ourselves to help these in a small way, we want to turn the tide by helping research funders and investors support such efforts on a large scale.”
The centre will grow a community of funders and researchers,collate extensive research evidence on innovation, uptake and adoption into practical guides for policy makers and support agricultural research and innovation funders.