Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Addressing the ‘knowledge gap’

Dr Julie Ingram, Senior Research Fellow at the Countryside & Community Research Institute reflects on the landbridge workshop and her involvement in a European project which is attempting to synthesise and convert agricultural research outcomes into suitable formats for farmers, advisers and others in the supply chain.

I attended the Landbridge workshop Taking Stock of the Links between Research and the Land the British Academy on 1 May.
The context of the workshop was knowledge exchange between land professional and researcher. In particular it was looking at how to make communication between research and advisers more effective. One of the emerging themes at the workshop was the so-called ‘knowledge gap’ between researchers and advisers. This has been attributed to past changes in funding and policy, which were intended to make research more responsive to users’ needs, but have led to what some feel is an increasing disconnect between research and practice.
Participants at the Workshop thought that this gap is exacerbated by the large number of research providers (public and private) and their extensive research outputs which makes it difficult for advisers to find relevant information. The nature of the outputs was also considered to be problematic with scientific reports and peer reviewed publications often being too lengthy and written in complex scientific language. Commercial sensitivity, copyright issues and cost also prevented some advisers from accessing outputs.
A recently launched European funded project called VALERIE (VALorising European Research for Innovation in agriculturE and forestry) aims to address some of these issues. It is based on the rationale that many EU and nationally funded research projects in the fields of agriculture and forestry provide excellent scientific results but that outreach and translation of these results into farming and forestry practices is limited.  VALERIE over the course of the next four years  will:
          Review and summarise knowledge - from national, international and EU research projects and studies - for innovation in agriculture and forestry
          Convert research outcomes with innovation potential into suitable formats for end-users (farmers, advisers, and enterprises in the supply chain)
          Consult stakeholders in ten case studies to identify knowledge gaps, assess technical and economic viability of innovative solutions and to reveal barriers to uptake
          Develop a ‘smart’ search engine for agricultural and forestry knowledge and research outputs, for use by farmers, foresters, advisers and researchers. This ‘Communication Facility’ (“”) will not only make new knowledge accessible to the end-users, but will also enable them to share their knowledge, experience and views with peers across Europe. Continuity is ensured by embedding it in the European Innovation Partnership NF Platform
For more information:

1 comment:

  1. I have read the blog posts following the 1 May workshop with considerable interest.

    The role of the Royal Agricultural Societies is one worth revisiting in this context. It also seems to me that they may be casting about for a strengthened role, and the process of knowledge exchange and development is very much rooted in their origins and history.

    The weekly RuSource briefings from Alan Spedding are also worth a look as they seem to be trying to achieve (and achieving) much of what the various commentators this month are seeking. Have a look at for yourself.

    Finally a mention of OpenFields. Again Alan's weekly briefings and more besides are all to be found here:

    I know the guys who set this up and the work and careful thought they have put into it. Looking over their fence I wouldn't underestimate the issues in designing, developing and maintaining a repository like this and it would be good to see this initiative developing and growing. RELU is already a contributor I see.

    What to draw from all this? Much of what we want may already be there if only we knew how to look for it and how to use it when we have found it. In a 'knowledge economy' that is what will increasingly distinguish the best from the rest. Should we wait for the knowledge to come to us, or is it for us to go to it?

    Charles Cowap
    28 May 2014