2 January 1998

New tack for cereal and oilseed R&D

LEVY funded cereals and oilseed research are being refocussed to give growers better value for money and faster, more relevant results.

"The £40/t fall in grain prices puts a very different complexion on the way we consider R&D," says Paul Biscoe, new research director Home-Grown Cereals Authority.

"We have to ensure growers see a return on the money they invest, which means the results of research must be adopted in practise. If they are not we are clearly letting levy payers down."

Alongside internal management changes to improve cost-effectiveness and ensure projects start sooner, the new approach aims to relay results to growers more effectively. Roadshows, free copies of recommended lists and agronomy information cards have already helped, says Mr Biscoe.

Now the process is to be accelerated. Funding from the DTIs Sector Challenge initiative will look for better ways to translate research findings into advice for individual farmers.

The £0.5m project will see how best ADAS can relay messages on fertiliser use and crop protection to cereal growers. Wye College will monitor the process and extract messages for future use.

The goal is to create a brand awareness for HGCA research, so farmers ask advisers to include new levy-funded findings when making field recommendations.

To help in that direction the Sector Challenge will be complemented by a new Technology Transfer Group within the HGCA. That will span the cereals and oilseeds departments, seeking the best methods of passing information to growers. &#42

HGCAs Paul Biscoe wants to speed flow of research findings to growers. A £0.5m DTI project will help identify new approaches.