August 2, 2013
Developing research strategy meets key growers needs
The finishing touches are being put to an innovative arable R&D strategy plan to underpin Agrii’s multi-million expansion in applied research, development and technical support for UK growers.
In a significant first for the agricultural supply industry, the formal plan is designed to focus the company’s market-leading research efforts on plugging the most important agronomic knowledge gaps in cereal, oilseed rape, potato, vegetable and fruit production.
“Right from the start we put impartial research at the heart of the business we’re building from the strong ‘evidence-based’ heritage of Masstock and UAP,” explains Agrii head of technology and services, Clare Bend. “Research which, we are confident, will provide our 300-plus field staff and their customers with practical performance-improving agronomic intelligence second-to-none in the industry.”
“To make sure all our R&D remains tightly focused on the changing needs of our customers and agronomists across the UK, we have put in place a continuous consultation process to constantly re-define its key priorities. Linked to this, we have established an R&D Strategy Board under the chairmanship of leading crop scientist, Professor James Burke of University College, Dublin to guide our future development in close co-operation with some of the country’s most respected independent specialists and organisations.
“One of the first tasks of this Board has been to develop a five-year strategy plan based on the national R&D priorities survey we’ve conducted widely with customers and agronomists over the past year. Working with our 20-strong Agrii Technology and Services team, we’ve refined the wide range of potential study areas identified through this into a list of 50 primary research projects validated for their contribution to growers and prioritised by region.”
The emerging Agrii R&D strategy plan builds on the extensive trials programme already underway to optimise the performance of current systems and identify new solutions to key agronomic challenges.
It is structured around the five key pillars of genetics, nutrition and soils, precision agronomy, crop protection and emerging technologies, with managing risk and volatility and maximising return on investment central to all its components. As well as organising the company’s research into a series of carefully-integrated work programmes for the greatest customer value, the plan defines the specific internal and external resources required to deliver them and the way this will be done through the developing network of regional Agrii Technology Centres and ifarms.
“We shall be introducing our R&D strategy to customers and the industry later in the year,” says Clare Bend. “It ties-in extremely well with the welcome Agricultural Technologies Strategy published recently by Defra to guide the Government’s major agricultural science and technology investment.
“We look forward to developing our close working relationships with leading universities and institutes as well as our expanding research base and grower communication network to ensure our R&D plays the fullest possible part in meeting these wider national goals alongside our own tightly customer-led objectives.”