Skip navigation

Gloucestershire Business News

Farmers team up to set research priorities

A group of farming and research organisations is teaming up to better understand the research and innovation priorities for farmers and growers across the UK.

This autumn, a series of workshops hosted by the National Farmers Union (NFU), the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) and Innovative Farmers, among others, will ask farmers what research would be most useful to their business, now and in the long term. They will hear views from all major agricultural sectors, across a wide diversity of farming systems.

Any farmers or growers who would like to participate can visit the website of the Centre for Effective Innovation in Agriculture (CEIA), which is coordinating the process, for a full list of workshops and to get in touch with the organisers directly.

Professor Tom MacMillan, Elizabeth Creak chair in rural policy and strategy at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester, and one of the organisers, said: "The need for innovation in agriculture has never been more urgent. Our industry is grappling with rapid changes in policy and trade, heightened volatility and climate and nature crises. Research is vital to help understand these challenges and find ways to address them. As researchers, there is certainly more we can do to make sure our work is truly relevant on the ground."

The workshops are supported by organisations including Innovate UK and the Agricultural Universities Council (AUC), which brings together 16 UK universities which carry out research in agriculture.

In May, the AUC published its joint research strategy setting out how the universities would work together to help address challenges facing farming. Top of the list was working more with farmers and others at the sharp end, to understand their priorities and shape the research agenda.

Dr Helen Ferrier, chief science advisor for the NFU, said: "It is so important that the voices of farmers and growers are heard when research strategies are developed. These are the people who will be turning scientific knowledge into practice in their businesses and they therefore play a key role in enabling Government funding to show a return on investment.

"The positive impact of innovation in our sector can be extremely significant if the research and development and knowledge exchange system works well. Priorities do shift over time, and I'm really pleased that work to identify research needs, first published in 2013, is being updated again now, hearing from a wide range of farming sectors and systems."

Rebecca Swinn, manager of Innovative Farmers, said: "Farmers are used to experimenting and adapting to changes in climate, farm payments and supply chain demands. No one knows their land better, so I'm pleased to see researchers valuing their knowledge by working together to set research priorities.

"This collaborative approach can benefit every stage of the research process, giving researchers the opportunity to ground truth their work, make an impact and add some scientific rigour to on-farm trials."

Clare Mike, director of technical and business development at LEAF, said: "With climate change at the forefront of the agenda, it is critical that we continue to drive forward the 'science into practice' approach and demonstrate the importance of applying research directly onto farm - to build economic viability, business resilience, and a more sustainable food and farming system."

The findings from the workshops will help shape research and innovation priorities for the whole industry. The AUC will use the outcomes, in the context of global goals for sustainable land use and food systems, to develop a shared list of priorities for researchers to focus their work on.

Related Articles

Skills, Apprenticeships & Careers: The latest vacancies and opportunities across Gloucestershire Image

Skills, Apprenticeships & Careers: The latest vacancies and opportunities across Gloucestershire

Whether you are looking for a new role, an apprenticeship or a first job, Punchline is here to help.

Students selected to represent region in final Image

Students selected to represent region in final

Three University of Gloucestershire students have been selected to represent the South West in a national competition.

Funding boost for colleges Image

Funding boost for colleges

SGS College has won £2.5m funding for the county through the Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF).

Record number of Gloucestershire care leavers going to uni Image

Record number of Gloucestershire care leavers going to uni

A record number of Gloucestershire care leavers are studying at universities across the UK.

Copyright 2023 Moose Partnership Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any content is strictly forbidden without prior permission.