Status of Agricultural Knowledge and Advice
The UK’s impending exit from the European Union may impact the agricultural sector more than any other. The opportunity for UK government to set its own agenda comes with the corresponding reality that UK farmers will face uncertainty due to political aspirations. Government’s recently published 25 year environment plan and Industrial Strategy emphasise the challenge. The agri-food industry must seek to improve efficiency, productivity, and environmental performance, mutually beneficial aspirations which should drive a more competitive UK agriculture. Key to achieving these goals is enhanced knowledge transfer that ensures farmers receive effective on farm advice.
The UK agri-supply chain has the practical knowledge base to narrow the competitive gap. However to regain UK farming’s position as a world leader in agricultural technology the challenge is to ensure the whole research and knowledge chain - public and commercial – work cohesively towards shared outcomes. Although certainly there are areas of excellence within our research base e.g. agronomic and genomic expertise there are some areas, particularly within livestock research, where our capabilities and capacity for high quality fundamental research have waned. To fill these gaps requires UK’s political, academic and business leaders to have a clear view of the outcome needed, how parts of the chain fit and how to co-operate more effectively.
The agri-supply industry is perfectly placed to assist the drive for increasing productivity and sustainable land management through its part in existing coherent knowledge exchange. AIC members with their community of highly trained, well trusted advisers coupled with significant near market research and development will continue to support the majority of UK farmers and farming systems to make the gains required both in terms of improved productivity and efficiency and in competing profitably with the rest of the world.
Therefore, it is highly pertinent that AIC gives a clear description of what our Members currently provide to UK agriculture and the important role we will continue to play.
During the past year, AIC has conducted a review of the knowledge exchange capacity within the commercial agri-supply sector, involving professional companies and their advisers - those who support farmers day in and day out with near and longer-term advice and technical solutions. The review has led the production of the ‘Status of Agricultural Knowledge, Development and Advice’ report. This review builds on its predecessor (The Value of Advice) and extends its scope from purely advice to the whole knowledge chain from basic research to tailored advice on-farm.
The ’Status of Agricultural Knowledge, Development and Advice’ aims to quantify the level of professionalism that exists 5 years on and to link it back to the knowledge base on which it is founded. We also wish to position AIC member company investment in research and development as a major contributor to the whole process of turning knowledge into practice. The scale is second only to BBSRC, placing the agri-supply industry as a significant player in the research community.
This report illustrates the UK’s inherent strategic capability, through updating the understanding of the added value of commercial research and knowledge, and the significant potential from forging effective partnerships between commercial and state-funded activity.