A better balance is needed between basic, strategic research and more applied, practical investigations, Rothamsted Research‘s Stephen Moss told delegates at the British Crop Production Council congress.

Research institutions and universities were much too geared towards fundamental research, he said. “And they’re not too worried about who takes it up. The balance is hopelessly wrong.”

Doubling food production in the next 40 years wouldn’t happen if fundamental research wasn’t turned into practical applications, he said. “There isn’t enough practical understanding [by researchers] of the real issues. Knowledge without application is worthless. Doing research in itself is not good enough, it needs to deliver for farmers, and not just make fancy journal papers.”

Government policy was a lot to blame, he said. “Their policy is to turn near market research over to industry, but we need more government support for applied research.”

The recent Technology Strategy Board announcement of funding, the direction of which should be led by industry could help however, he noted.