Saturday, 9 January 2010

UK: Only greater agricultural science co-operation will deliver production and sustainability gains

4 - 6 January 2010. Oxford. UK. For more than 60 years the Oxford Farming Conference has been THE way to start each year. The Oxford Farming research has become an important part of the conference probing some of the fundamental issues facing the British farming industry. Oxford’s speakers are of the highest calibre, from Royalty to agribusiness leaders and from international politicians to entrepreneurial young farmers.

Farmers, scientists, the food industry and the Government must work more closely if UK agriculture is to increase production while protecting the environment.That was a key finding of two pieces of unique research into future agricultural science needs revealed at the Oxford Farming Conference.

An estimate of current funding on agricultural research prepared for the conference suggests that there is a significant mismatch between who is perceived to do the research and who is actually doing it. In contrast to the farmers’ perceptions, annual funding of agricultural research by the Government is currently worth £264M – 75% of the overall total of £350M. Funding by the agricultural supply industry is worth £56M – 16% and by farmers ( largely through the AHDB ) is £29M – 8%. Public funding for research is also expected to increase by around £16M a year as the Government has committed £80M over the next five years through the Technology Strategy Board.

Farmers also suggested that science research needs to be more applied and simpler to understand if they are to derive the greatest value from it. Communication of research is seen as key with around 80% saying that the press is the most important means of communicating scientific developments.