Poultry conference aims to bridge gap between research and farm

The National Farmers’ Union’s first Poultry Research Seminar has brought together poultry farmers and academics to ensure emerging research and technology is relevant to the industry.

The union also hopes that better engagement with those designing new technology will encourage farmers to embrace innovation that can improve their productivity, animal welfare and efficiency.

NFU poultry board chairman Thomas Wornham said that while research plays a significant role in improving productivity, it is not always easily accessible by farmers. The aim of the seminar was to bridge the gap and help educate researchers on some of the practicalities involved with implementing new methods.

The NFU’s Poultry Research Seminar took place on Friday, January 15 at the NFU headquarters in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.

The researchers addressing the seminar included:

  • Dr. Dawn Scholey, Nottingham Trent University – World Poultry Science Association, education and engagement;
  • Dr. Lynn McIntyre, Harper Adams University – sensor-based methods to assess the campylobacter status of broiler chicken flocks;
  • Dr. Jessica Stokes, Royal Agricultural University – facilitating on farm innovation: closing the research and practice divide;
  • Sophie Prentice, Nottingham Trent University – current themes in poultry research;
  • Dr. Marie Kirby, Harper Adams University – dry AD: A novel valorisation method for chicken manure;
  • Dr. Siobhan Mullan, Bristol University – making the best use of your welfare data: Development of a new app.

NFU poultry board chairman Thomas Wornham said: “The poultry industry is renowned in agriculture for how it embraces technology. There are already many areas of our industry that are highly automated, using enhanced robotics, for example.

“We are a highly productive sector producing 13% of the agricultural output from only 1% of the land, but that does not mean we want to rest on our laurels.

Every farmer should be looking for ways to increase their productivity, and taking on board new technology and farming methods is a key part of that.

“Unfortunately, it is an all too familiar story that new and exciting research simply does not reach farmers. That is what this seminar was all about.

“I want to start a continual dialogue between the farm gate and the research lab. By working together, we can help ensure that all farmers can use new advice and even become test farms for exciting new projects. I want future research to be relevant and able to be incorporated on farm, offering much more value to the farmer.

“However, this is only one strand and Government has its part to play too. It is vital that the Agriculture Bill gives farmers the tools and confidence to invest in new technology and innovate their businesses.

“That will help farmers continue doing what they do best – producing safe, traceable and affordable food for the nation.”