Soil Benchmark were invited to host a fringe session at the 22nd World Congress of Soil Science in Glasgow, focused on 'Building bridges between soil scientists and farmers'.
The session was organised in collaboration with NIAB and ADAS - both partners with Soil Benchmark on a DEFRA/UKRI funded project under the 'Farming Innovation Pathways' scheme.
15 countries represented...
...from 4 continents!
30+ institutions present:
A recording of the whole session can be viewed below
20 minute panel discussion featuring a distinguished panel of soil scientists and farmers
1 hr Q&A with the audience from around the world
3x 10 minute breakout groups looking at different aspects of how soil science and agriculture interact
10 minute plenary to share conclusions before a networking lunch
5 key recommendations
from the breakout sessions
1. Soil scientists need to communicate clearly and consistently, using farmers’ language (and working with social scientists)
2. Work should be a two-way collaboration – not simply ‘extension’
3. Working through groups and individuals who farmers already trust should be prioritised to avoid farmer ‘fatigue’ or lack of trust
4. We need to build partnerships between farmers, government, and academics
5. We need (in the UK at least) more national level soils information to be made available, including on the impact of policy
Details of the breakout sessions
1. How soil scientists and farmers can directly work together – led by Dr Tom Storr (Dyson Farming) and David Fuller-Shapcott (Sweethope Farm). This group shared practical ideas and tips on how to ensure this
relationship is made most productive for both sides.
2. Barriers that exist to successful interaction (and some solutions) – led by Dr Felicity Crotty (RAU), Dr Lynda Deeks (Cranfield) and Dr Paul Newell-Price (ADAS). This group explored some of the structural challenges blocking successful interactions between soil scientists and farmers. They also looked at potential solutions and mitigations of these.
3. How soil science can influence ag-policy – led by Prof. Christine Watson (SRUC) and Dr Ken Loades (JHI). This group looked at the bigger picture, of how soil science can influence agriculture through policy. This benefitted from a range of experiences from Malawi to the US about how different countries around the world try to achieve this, and pulled together common themes from each.