New science network set up to help farmers

AT THE HELM: Prof Dianna Bowles, chairman of the new Farmer Scientist Network

AT THE HELM: Prof Dianna Bowles, chairman of the new Farmer Scientist Network

First published in Farming Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by

A NEW initiative to provide farmers with practical solutions to livestock and arable problems has been launched by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society (YAS).

The society – which runs the Great Yorkshire Show – has brought together leading agricultural scientists and farmers to form the Farmer Scientist Network (FSN).

Nigel Pulling, YAS chief executive, said: “Our aim is to drive forward improvements and innovations to help solve farming issues.

“We want to be a catalyst to help improve British agriculture and the efficacy of farming by bringing together the farmers who experience the barriers and problems, with researchers and innovators who can develop solutions.”

The group is chaired by Emeritus Professor Dianna Bowles of the University of York and founder and former director of the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products.

Prof Bowles is a long-standing member of the society’s governing body and has a record of bringing innovation to agriculture. She has a smallholding in Nidderdale, where she keeps around 90 Herdwick sheep and was responsible for setting up The Sheep Trust in response to the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic.

She said: “The network’s goal is sustainable productivity, encouraging and supporting the changes that are urgently needed to bring innovation and improvements into farming.”

Scientists from the universities of Leeds, Durham, Sheffield and Newcastle are already involved and it is anticipated that the university farms at Leeds and Newcastle will play a key practical role in taking forward new ideas and demonstrating solutions.

Mr Pulling said: “The society has always focused on encouraging agricultural excellence, whether through our Tye Trophy farming awards, our Nuffield Scholarship, Future Farmers of Yorkshire Group, and now through this network.

“The vision is also to nurture young farming entrepreneurs so they realise their potential – and that could be as simple as putting them in touch with successful farmers who have already experienced challenges but have grasped the opportunities that came their way.”

For further information, visit farmerscientistnetwork.co.uk.

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