A call went out from the Royal Welsh Winter Fair for more industry-driven research coupled with investment support so all farmers across Wales could make use of innovative practices and technologies at farm level.
Launching NFU Cymru’s Upland Research Paper, John Owen, the union’s less favoured areas board chairman, said there had to be fresh impetus if the vision of a productive, profitable and progressive Welsh agricultural industry was to be achieved.
The paper is the result of a union workshop in which future research and development priorities for the uplands were identified, with the aim being to bridge the gap between science and practice.
The hope is that it will influence the future research and funding agendas of the leading development institutions.
“In Wales some 80 per cent of agricultural land is currently designated as less favoured areas, with almost 92 per cent of breeding ewes, over 80 per cent of non-dairy females aged two or more years and around 60 per cent of dairy females located on LFA farms,” said Mr Owen.
“Given the future challenges to our global food production system, with a growing world population, increasing demand for meat and dairy products, greater competition for land, water and energy and the increasing impact of climate change, the need for farmers to be more engaged in shaping the agricultural research agenda has never been greater.
“In Wales, we need a competitive and sustainable agriculture sector that is able to increase productivity while improving resource efficiency so it achieves more from less.
“That means investment in agri-science, with a focus on applied research relevant to industry needs and knowledge exchange, is crucial – with the key priority being to ensure that research is practical and relevant for farmers,” he added.
According to the paper among key areas with research needs were: Low input grass varieties that were suited to the uplands, genetics to deliver animal health and welfare benefits through enhanced disease resistance and improved feed efficiency from grass-based systems.