Second call from Soil Association ‘field labs’ seeks food growers with innovative ideas to test. Tom MacMillan reports.
Back in April on this blog, I made the case that public funding for agricultural R&D should do more to support innovation by farmers.
The past few years have already seen welcome steps to help farmers become more vocal ‘research clients’, with the industry’s priorities increasingly reflected in the research agenda. But farmers are so much more than just clients, buying and using the bright ideas and technology that scientists have come up with. They have their own ideas; they develop and adapt techniques and technology, and many trial new approaches informally before they adopt them fully across their business.
Continue reading Farmers can be researchers too
In a special photo-travelogue, Geoff Tansey explores China’s problems and solutions as a powerhouse of agricultural production.
Astounding 1600-year-old rice terraces, rapidly expanding cities, surprising labour shortages, huge organic vegetable production, small village plots, and much recent research science on soils, water and roots: my two trips to China had some of what I expected and much more that I didn’t.
Two new schemes from the Soil Association aim to put farmers at the forefront of research. Tom MacMillan reports.
There is hardly a year that starts without at least somebody at the Oxford Farming Conference lamenting the gulf between agricultural research and practice, and calling for it to be bridged. The difference this year is that these calls may now be getting some answers.
The past few months have seen an upsurge in efforts to address this gap including Feeding the Future, a review of research priorities for farmers and growers up to the year 2030 which was commissioned by four organisations at the heart of UK food production:
Continue reading Food producers: experts in their fields
Innovation is a critical part of solving global food security challenges, and presents business opportunities too, says Calum Murray.
But, if the UK economy is to maintain its own food security and benefit from the potential global commercial opportunities that will prevail, we need to ensure that the business base both exists and is adequately supported.
As the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board understands that breaking down the barriers to innovation can be hard; these might include a traditional mind set, policy and regulatory hurdles, available expertise or adequate funding.
Continue reading Linking and clever thinking
Pieter van de Graaf on how Scottish science links to food security issues worldwide.
Scotland’s main food-related policies, the national Food & Drink policy Recipe for Success and the Prevention of Obesity Route Map, both recognise the important role that scientific research plays in achieving the Scottish Government’s policy goals.
Continue reading The global dimension of food research in Scotland
Feeding the world is an enormous challenge. But research is commonly funded in small pots. Adam Staines wrestles this paradox.
In the UK there has been an intellectual battle to make the case for more food-related research. Though the increasing global population (9Bn by 2050) will need more food, the third of global food wasted, problems of western obesity and overeating, and well-stocked supermarkets – combined with stark imagery of European wine lakes and butter mountains from the 1980s – have made it an uphill task to persuade a sceptical western society we need more food, let alone more food research.
Continue reading Following the money: supporting food security science
Collaborations between Britain and Brazil are on the up. John Lucas reports.
It is now more than one month since I arrived in Brazil to spend a period working in Embrapa (the Brazilian Government agricultural research organisation) as part of the Labex (Laboratorio no Exterior) programme.
For more than 10 years Embrapa have been sending scientists abroad to work in labs and organisations that they regard as of scientific and strategic importance, and a UK Labex base was established at Rothamsted Research in 2010.
Continue reading New frontiers in food security
Put focused, transparent and accountable food security initiatives first for sustainable development, says Morgane Danielou of the Farming First coalition.
Last year in L’Aquila, Italy, G8 leaders pledged US$20Bn (since revised to $22Bn) to address global food security.
Since the food crisis erupted in 2008, a large number of global and regional food security initiatives have been launched or strengthened in response.
Continue reading A message to G8 leaders