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New centre puts farmer priorities at heart of innovation research

Posted 4 December 2020

"The CEIA provides a key opportunity to bridge the gap between agricultural research and farmer."

Farmers will have a bigger role in agricultural research and development that works for them, thanks to a new academic centre announced today.

The Centre for Effective Innovation in Agriculture (CEIA) will see Harper Adams University work alongside four other agricultural universities in the UK to address the gap between scientific research on innovation and real-life farming experience. The centre will focus on how research and development investment can best support innovation to be adopted by farmers.

With £1.5m of charitable funding, including from the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust and from each University, the virtual centre will be run by experts in agricultural innovation research from Harper Adams University, the University of Reading, Royal Agricultural University (RAU), Newcastle University and the University of Warwick.

Professor James Lowenberg-DeBoer, Elizabeth Creak Chair of Agri-Tech Economics at Harper Adams, said: “The CEIA provides a key opportunity to bridge the gap between agricultural research and farmer.

“Since most agricultural technology is adopted only if it is profitable and practical for farmers, Harper Adams University and the Global Institute for Agri-Tech Economics will play a key role helping technology developers and entrepreneurs understand farm business challenges, and help farmers to develop ways to make money using new technology."

The centre will:

  • Grow a community of funders and researchers who become passionate about the practical impact of agricultural research and the uptake of innovation by farmers.
  • Collate the extensive research evidence on innovation, uptake and adoption into practical guides for policy makers about effective research and innovation funding.
  • Advise and support agricultural research and innovation funders, including government, to ensure their programmes are accessible to farmers and well-placed to yield results on the ground.

Paul May, Chair of the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust, said:

“As a charity dedicated to the future of farming, we meet some very dynamic farmers and researchers, who share a commitment to improving our industry’s productivity, sustainability and resilience. But what has struck us is how hard it can be to marry their efforts – there is government and commercial money for research but it is not necessarily targeted at where farmers will use and benefit from it.

“There is a growing movement of independent farmer-led innovation networks that tries to plug this gap. Rather than simply chip in ourselves to help these in a small way, we want to turn the tide by helping research funders and investors support such efforts on a large scale.”

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