Call for increase in applied R&D funding

Call for increase in applied R&D funding

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It is possible applied research funding for agriculture could be on the up, after many years of decline, following a review by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture.

The group, supported by a report written by Prof David Leaver, is calling for a renewed focus on applied research  in agriculture, to meet the 21st century challenge of producing more food while impacting less on the environment.

All-Party group chairman George Freeman MP explains that the UK's capabilities and infrastructure for applied agricultural R&D and extension services have been seriously eroded over the past 25 years, reflected in a gradual decline in the relative production efficiency and international competitiveness of UK agriculture.

"Prof Leaver's report highlights an urgent need to reverse the progressive withdrawal of public sector funding for applied research, which has significantly reduced the UK's capacity to innovate and to translate relevant basic research into practice.

"That will involve a switch in funding priorities from basic to applied disciplines and the development of new targets for the outputs of agricultural R&D investment, based on the sustainable productivity gains needed to meet 2030 global food requirements."

In the report, Support for agricultural R&D is essential to deliver sustainable increases in UK food production, Prof Leaver says: "It is widely accepted that the 'sustainable intensification' of agricultural production will require significant innovation and investment in the development of improved farming technologies and practices. This is needed, not only to increase output, but to lead to the adoption of smarter farming methods which help reduce emissions and conserve natural resources."

His report calls for the funding situation to be reversed as a matter of urgency to ensure investment addresses emerging global and national policy objectives.

He also urges the Government to consider the provision of attractive career structures for scientists.

Focusing on livestock in particular, he points out that  precision techniques  relating to nutritional management of livestock and to grassland and forage management in order to increase efficiency of production, to reduce energy inputs and to reduce environmental impact are needed.

To see the full report click here



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