Universities team up to boost agricultural research impact
19 May 2023
Developing ideas to make food safe, affordable and environmentally-friendly is the goal of a new research strategy announced this week by the UK’s leading agricultural institutions.
The University of Reading, which is ranked as the top institution for agriculture and forestry in the UK by QS, has joined forces with 15 other universities to help make better use of their collective resources.
Together as the Agricultural Universities Council (AUC), the institutions aim to turn innovation in agricultural research into practical farming outcomes that will benefit farmers, people and wildlife across the UK.
Central to their new strategy is a focus on identifying research priorities, sharing evidence, and training the next generation of scientists with the skills to make an impact on the agricultural world.
This is the first time that agricultural research providers have joined up on this scale, and is the outcome of a year-long investigation into industry and policy priorities, current research activities, and the sector’s strengths and weaknesses.
Professor Simon Mortimer, Head of the School of Agriculture, Policy & Development at the University of Reading and Chair of the AUC, said: “This strategy will present the capabilities of UK universities in agricultural research in a consistent way and helps overcome perceptions of fragmentation. Researchers at AUC universities have a key role to play in the development of food systems that produce safe, nutritious and affordable food in a way that leaves the lightest possible footprint on the planet.”
The strategy responds to the major challenges and changes facing agriculture. Research is vital, to understand the issues and support innovation to address them. While UK science is seen as world-leading, farmers and other stakeholders have longstanding concerns about the impact of publicly-funded agricultural research. The strategy, therefore, sets out to prioritise wisely, avoid duplication, and boost the practical impact and public value of research.
Leaders from across food and farming research and innovation attended the launch on Thursday, 18 May at the Royal Agricultural University in Swindon.