"Give a man a reputation as an early riser, and he can sleep ’til noon." Mark Twain
The uplift in cattle prices of recent weeks slowed in week ended 11th May read more
With more new season lambs entering the market, the dynamics of the trade have started to change read more
Provisional data for April milk deliveries of approximately 1,111m litres are 93m litres (7.7%) down on the previous year read more
In April, the DAPP averaged 160.9p/kg, almost 4p up on the month. At the same time, the average retail price came down by a small amount read more
The GB weekly average price fell by £7.68/t to £295.35/t and the free-buy average fell by £22.02/t to £368.39/t. read more
The first USDA estimates for world production in 2013-14 forecast record maize and wheat production, citing larger planted areas and a rebound in yields from the US (maize) and the Former Soviet Union (wheat) read more
The USDA has released its first soyabean supply and demand estimates for the new season read more
UK malting barley export prices are at €245/t FOB (spring, South Coast) w/e 11th April. read more
The latest National Statistics produced by Defra on the activity of UK hatcheries and poultry slaughterhouses. read more
USDA’s latest quarterly stocks report, released on 28th September, estimated US maize stocks (at 1st September) at 25.1m t, down 12% on the same point in 2011 and the lowest since 2004. read more
Iona Walton talks to Dr Susannah Bolton about the HGCA’s far-reaching research, which it is hoped will enable farmers to respond more easily to new challenges
The decline in investment in agricultural science may mean that the lack of connectivity between new technical development and on-farm application becomes a real threat to the ability of the UK industry to compete. Dr Susannah Bolton, Home-Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) director of research and development programmes, warns that the relationship between science and agriculture has suffered due to a decline in funding.
“It’s a significant problem and if it wasn’t for levy-funded research there would be little relationship between the scientific community and the farming industry,” she says. “Knowledge transfer is essential for the future of farming in the UK and we need to develop the skills base and invest in people who can interpret science for farming.”
A recently launched consultation period holds the key to the future of HGCA research and development spend over the next three to four years. A two-pronged approach sees a questionnaire, to be distributed at Cereals 2010, available for download on the HGCA website and posted to levy payers.
“We are asking participants about the usefulness of our outputs, are seeking to identify gaps in what we do and establish the challenges that participants believe they face,” Dr Bolton explains. “Four years ago we had more than 1,200 responses to a similar consultation; this year’s will evaluate how useful we have been to the industry over that time.”
The second part of the consultation involves discussions with stakeholder groups such as millers and NFU regional groups to ADAS, NIAB/TAG and Rothamsted Research.
“Our wide-reaching consultation allows the entire industry to contribute to the development of our new strategy,” outlines Dr Bolton. “The research and development department of 18 employees will collate and analyse the results, which will be published next spring.”
While the previous strategy listed priorities and 15 core areas of activity, the current aim is to structure the updated strategy around the HGCA’s mission in four key areas.
“Technical efficiency and increasing yields will remain critical,” says Dr Bolton. “Business efficiency through the profitability of the farm business and a reduction of the cost of inputs is important. The identification of new markets and development of existing markets so that the industry can become more agile in how it responds is gaining significance as growers need to target markets more efficiently. Also the competitiveness of the UK industry as a whole is a priority. Farmers must be able to respond to new challenges. We need to stay ahead of the game.”
Farmers in the UK run their businesses well and are extremely efficient in terms of technology, but there is an urgent need to consider the response to new regional markets and where new avenues can be explored.
“Prices look set to remain volatile so build this into the business model and become more responsive,” advises Dr Bolton.
Elsewhere in the world the scale of investment in agricultural research is much greater, leading to a stronger science base and better knowledge transfer.
“We need to collaborate with organisations from elsewhere in Europe and further afield, while ensuring that lessons taken are applicable here,” says Dr Bolton. “For example, the European Network for the Durable Exploitation of Crop Protection Strategies (ENDURE) is building a lasting crop protection community of research and aims to provide end-users with a broader range of short-term solutions to specific problems. It’s a fabulous example of a great network that I hope will be extended to other areas and we in the UK should be getting involved.”
For more information visit www.hgca.com
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