Making science useful to agricultureNov 26-29, 2018 | Adelaide, South Australia
The challenges for global agriculture in the next two decades are1: (1) for all at all times, abundant, affordable, healthy and nutritious food; (2) for farmers, comfortable stable incomes, in line with the rest of society, from sustainable farming with less drudgery; (3) for the non-farm environment, absence of encroachment and of contamination by farming; (4) for the rural communities, viable support and attractive landscapes; and (5) for the world, maintenance of non-agricultural biodiversity.
Meeting these challenges requires focused investment of scarce R&D resources, and managing the tension between formal economic evaluation of alternative investments and fostering ingenuity, serendipity and scientific entrepreneurship2. An implicit assumption in the assembly of R&D portfolios is that the underlying science is sound.
This workshop will discuss the investment of limited resources to R&D in agriculture, illustrate instances where reductionism, oversimplification or plain lack of rigour compromise the outcome of these investments, and highlight cases where genuine multidisciplinary research reduces the risk of misconstructed science.
1 Fischer, R. A. & Connor, D. J. Issues for cropping and agricultural science in the next 20 years. Field Crops Res. 222, 121–142 (2018).
2 Alston, J. M., Norton, G. W. & Pardey, P. G. Science under scarcity: principles and practice for agricultural research evaluation and priority setting. (Cornell University Press, 1995).
November 26-29, 2018
Investing in R&D
- What is the state-of-the-art in the methods of funding allocation to R&D in agriculture? What makes successful research and what leads to waste and failure?
- Comparison of different models and scales; state, national, international.
- How to manage the trade-off between socially and economically sound investment requiring priority setting, and encouraging scientific entrepreneurship, creativity, serendipity and innovation?
- IP issues in public/private research, help or hindrance.
- How to manage the trade-off between collaboration and competition?
- Peer-review of research funding proposals, pros and cons. How can it be improved?
Failure and success in crop improvement
- Misconceptions in scientific research impacting the return of R&D investment; focus in breeding.
- Critical comparison of “Gene-first” and “phenotype-first” models. Can we improve return from R&D investment with a more nuanced definition of phenotype?
- Progress in plant breeding. state-of-the-art in quantifying genetic and environmental components of phenotypic variance. The role of models.
- Avoiding expensive distractions in pre-breeding research and plant breeding – can we identify them?
- Private plant breeding and global monopolies
Failure and success in agronomy
- Misconceptions in scientific research impacting the return of R&D investment; focus in agronomy.
- Critical comparison of production systems with emphasis on water and nutrients.
- Avoiding expensive distractions in agronomy – can we identify them?
- Genuine multidisciplinary research to avoid misconstructed science.
- Peer-review and the role of journals setting agendas.
- University drivers (ARC drivers, university rankings, overseas student recruitment, high-cits, H-indexes etc) on staff focus.
Outcomes of final discussion
- CRP perspective
- Survey of participants
- Main findings of workshop: initial summary
- Consolidated set of papers for proceedings
- Single, multi-author paper
M. Inés Mínguez
Meet our participants
Where it’s at
University of Adelaide,
North Terrace Campus
Horace Lamb, Room 422