BIG PROGRESS has been made in the first year for a new forum designed to more effectively use levy-payers‘ money for research activities, according to organisers.

The Applied Research Forum (ARF) allows industry levy bodies to integrate research programmes and transfer findings to growers more effectively.

“I am pleased the Forum has made considerable progress,” said Lord Whitty, Minister for Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy.

“I urge members to continue the good work, through the development, wherever possible, of integrated programmes of research and knowledge transfer.”

Since its launch in September 2003, the forum has run a number of workshops for representatives from the different levy bodies, explained Graham Jellis, lead technical director of the forum.

Topics included the use of organic residues/waste (manure and compost) and joint investigations into pink grains last harvest between the cereals and poultry sectors, he said.

The British Potato Council has also taken the lead in work on soil management in relation to arable crops and potatoes as part of the Water Framework Directive, he said.

“Soil biodiversity has a high profile at the moment with the mid term review and cross compliance coming into effect, therefore this will be an important focus area this year,” he said.

While no farmer workshops were held in 2004, there are plans for events to be held in 2005, where practical findings from the different research activities will be passed on to growers, he added.

More information on the forum‘s activities is available on the new website, www.appliedresearchforum.org.uk.