Dr Julie Ingram, Senior Research Fellow at the Countryside & Community Research Institute reflects on the landbridge workshop and her involvement in a European project which is attempting to synthesise and convert agricultural research outcomes into suitable formats for farmers, advisers and others in the supply chain.
I attended the Landbridge workshop Taking Stock of the Links between Research and the Land Professions.at the British Academy on 1 May.
The context of the workshop was knowledge exchange between land professional and researcher. In particular it was looking at how to make communication between research and advisers more effective. One of the emerging themes at the workshop was the so-called ‘knowledge gap’ between researchers and advisers. This has been attributed to past changes in funding and policy, which were intended to make research more responsive to users’ needs, but have led to what some feel is an increasing disconnect between research and practice.
Participants at the Workshop thought that this gap is exacerbated by the large number of research providers (public and private) and their extensive research outputs which makes it difficult for advisers to find relevant information. The nature of the outputs was also considered to be problematic with scientific reports and peer reviewed publications often being too lengthy and written in complex scientific language. Commercial sensitivity, copyright issues and cost also prevented some advisers from accessing outputs.
A recently launched European funded project called VALERIE (VALorising European Research for Innovation in agriculturE and forestry) aims to address some of these issues. It is based on the rationale that many EU and nationally funded research projects in the fields of agriculture and forestry provide excellent scientific results but that outreach and translation of these results into farming and forestry practices is limited. VALERIE over the course of the next four years will:
• Review and summarise knowledge - from national, international and EU research projects and studies - for innovation in agriculture and forestry
• Convert research outcomes with innovation potential into suitable formats for end-users (farmers, advisers, and enterprises in the supply chain)
• Consult stakeholders in ten case studies to identify knowledge gaps, assess technical and economic viability of innovative solutions and to reveal barriers to uptake
• Develop a ‘smart’ search engine for agricultural and forestry knowledge and research outputs, for use by farmers, foresters, advisers and researchers. This ‘Communication Facility’ (“AskValerie.eu”) will not only make new knowledge accessible to the end-users, but will also enable them to share their knowledge, experience and views with peers across Europe. Continuity is ensured by embedding it in the European Innovation Partnership NF Platform
For more information: www.valerie.eu