>The point we were making was that research conceptualized by
>researchers and conducted on research stations - whether public or
>private - asks very different questions and has very different
>outcomes than what a farmer might ask or need
I was only doing R & E in one state, so my experience is limited, but
what I saw was almost the reverse of your scenario. Station personnel
were trying to inject a modest environmental aspect into their work, if
only to get on the sustainability funding bandwagon, but
grower/commodity groups would say, in effect, "get back on track, screen
those pesticides, push for emergency exemptions, stop the nonsense."
>These products were
>most certainly driven by private industry's desire to expand the
>market for themselves - nothing to do with what farmers need or want.
Nobody asked the consumers if they wanted it.
I agree. All the fuss about precision agriculture is a good example.
But, I think that farmers are smart enough to not be fooled in the long
run, and will only adopt the parts of this that are truly of value.
>Yes - I will agree that there has been substantial uptake of these
>technologies - in the short term. But I would suggest this was more
>a case of "keeping up with the Farmer Jones' than industry filling a
You have identified a wild-card in all this. A good example that I have
observed relates to genetic purity of corn seed. Contamination by a few
percent selfs is very common and can be a significant yield drain. But
farmers are much more reactive to even a fraction of a percent of tall
off-types, as far as we can tell, because of esthetic and social
>...we in academia SHOULD be undertaking non-proprietary research
>that will directly benefit the farmer, society, and the environment.
>We are not doing that because we cannot do it without funding.
There are station people who are quietly doing just this. It requires:
1. Grantsmanship skill to tie into the trendy SARE and foundation money
2. Tone down the strident, politically correct, activist rhetoric (too
3. Discretion and finesse in dealing with grower-run commodity
commissions, who (as far as I can tell) do not share your
4. Some tangential service to relevant ag industries, to get some money
>what little government money remains for
>public research is being tied to matching industry funding- placing us
>in harness to serve people like you (again, nothing personal).
I maintain that "people like (me)" are not a malignant, evil force, but
share many of the concerns that you do. I don't see this as an
adversarial thing. It is possible to do research that benefits the
ag-related industries, and farmers, getting support from both groups.
>- that an agricultural industry that is shaped and driven by "sharp
>private sector people with cell phones on their waists, yield
>monitors on their combines, and portable computers in their pickup"
>is one that increasingly disenfranchises primary producers, with the
>net winners being those selling the inputs and the gadgets.
Those "sharp, private sector people" ARE the primary producers. The net
winners, as far as I can see, are the consumers who pay ridiculously low
prices for food.
Besides more government money (which is probably not in the cards) what
can the R & E system do to improve it's capacity for long-term, applied,
relevant research, and what role can industry play in this?
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