IOTA May 2014 Report

On behalf of IOTA, Mark Measures contributed to the recent landbridge conference on links between research and agricultural practice.

Landbridge is a knowledge exchange network for rural professionals. Its aims are to provide a platform for inter-professional learning and debate among advisors from across the professions and to provide opportunities for exchange with research communities. Through contributions to advisor learning, networking and training, landbridge aims to enhance advice to farming and land focused businesses.

The Conference: Taking stock of the links between research and the land professions 
at the British Academy, London set out to ask “Are scientists providing land advisers with useful information that they need to do their jobs? And do front line professionals have sufficient opportunities to contribute their expertise to the process of research? This one day interactive workshop hosted by landbridge on May 1st 2014 aims to look at the links between research and the land professions and how they might be improved. With contributions from leading practitioners and researchers, the workshop will explore models
and strategies for bringing research and professional practice together, what gets in the way of fruitful knowledge exchange, and how barriers could be broken down.”

The conference raised important questions about accessing information in a world of multiple sources, the need to find ways of involving several specialists on a farm to access the necessary expertise without the current pitfalls being experienced with multiple, uncoordinated environmental advisers, often with low skills, the difficulty which particularly organic advisers and others face of disseminating the systems and management advice. Such information offers little scope for funding through product sales. Do farmers only value advice that they pay for? What is a reasonable and affordable cost?

While better information dissemination is clearly an aspiration of many in the research world the reality is that it is being squeezed due to funding, commercial interest and the loss of structures such as OCIS and the EHF’S of the late 20th century. Developing more effective participative research, such as the ORC Participative Research Network and that which ORC and SA are doing with the Duchy Originals Future Farming project, is still ongoing but has an interesting programme of activities this year. However rarely do we see genuine efforts at knowledge “exchange” between researcher, adviser and farmer on equal terms.

IOTA will maintain contact with landbridge, ensure that IOTA work in research dissemination and exchange is more widely known and we will consider the potential opportunities for collaboration.

Mark Measures

Posted in Inform, IOTA, News and events