OFC NEWS: Applications open for £10,000 OFC/RASE Practice with Science Award

18 Aug 2015

Inventors, scientists and developers have a chance to win £10,000 and national recognition for their farming innovations by entering the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) and Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) 2016 Practice with Science Award.

The £10,000 Award will recognise applied scientific work that has resulted in particular benefits to the agricultural industry and brought practical on-farm benefits or in related industries such as food and energy.

The aim is to encourage new thinking and innovation that results in practical advances or improvements in technical and economic efficiency, and the award is open to both individual researchers and businesses or institutions that commissioned the research.

Tina Barsby"The aim of this award is to encourage and recognise new thinking and innovation that results in practical advances or improvements in technical and financial efficiency on farm and in other land-based activities explained Dr Tina Barsby, an OFC Director and Chief Executive of NIAB.

“Often this type of work gains little public industry recognition in what it delivers in practical benefits to farming."

She added that the scope for entrants was wide open to any development, technology or equipment that is based on science in practice. It is also open to anybody, whether it’s a scientist with a lab-based discovery or a farmer who’s developed a novel bit of machinery.

“Entries could be as diverse as a new sprayer nozzle, a decision support app or an energy-saving gadget,” she suggested. “The most important thing is that it’s innovative and improving on current alternatives.”

For the OFC, this award recognises the charitable aims of the organisation that are focused on education and scientific endeavour and practice.

The award was founded five years ago to fill an important "recognition gap" according to Dr Barsby. "The developers and inventors working on practical solutions to everyday farming often get missed in the roll call when it comes to acknowledgment and reward; however, all practical agriculturalists realise that it is the transfer of scientific knowledge into practical application that is key to driving innovation in the industry."

Entries will be judged on research and developments that are novel and original in terms of application and show practical benefit, on farm or in related industries.

The 2015 ‘Practice with Science’ Award was won by the Cool Farm Tool (CFT) developed by Dr Jon Hillier and his team at Aberdeen University, a greenhouse gas calculator used by the whole supply chain to measure the carbon footprint of crop and livestock products.
Organisations that have adopted the tool include Marks & Spencer for cutting carbon emissions in cotton production, Costco for their organic egg suppliers and Heinz for assessing climate-friendly production options for their Californian tomato growers.

The 2015 runner up was The Farm Crap App, developed by Dr Stephen Roderick's team at the Rural Business School at the Duchy College in Cornwall.

The £10,000 prize is split with £3,000 being presented to the lead individual and £7,000 to the institution or business the researcher works for. The latter monies will be used to support further research work into the subject, through the support of a studentship, traineeship or the purchase of a piece of research equipment.

RASE Chief Executive David Gardner added: “As a charity committed to Innovation for Agriculture the Society sees great merit in the OFC/RASE Practice with Science Award. Sustainable intensification will be delivered by implementing new science and technology, the type of farm-focused R&D that is entered into this award is exactly what's needed to enable the farm progress needed over the coming years."

Applications are being taken online via the OFC website at www.ofc.org.uk/node/1015. The closing date is 2 October 2015. The winner will be presented with the award at the 2016 Oxford Farming Conference where they will be expected to present a short précis of their winning project.

For further information visit the OFC website.