New Centre to guide good ideas into rural action

Published 18 August 2011

martin-alter-bloggA new research centre launched today at the AgQuip agricultural field days will be devoted to helping Australian farmers and rural communities take full advantage of scientific innovation in farming, business, health and rural policy.

Based at the University of New England, the new centre will initially bring together innovation and engagement researchers from UNE and Penn State University (PSU) in the United States.

“Australia’s farming sector has benefited greatly from the uptake of scientific innovation, but that uptake is sometimes slow and always incomplete,” said Professor Paul Martin, Director of the Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law (AgLaw Centre) at UNE. “This is true regardless of whether the innovation is in farming, environment protection, health and safety, or policy improvements.”

Professor Martin said that the UNE Ideas to Action Centre (i2A Centre) would draw on many different approaches to accelerating the conversion of good ideas into practical use for the benefit of rural people. “These include more sophisticated approaches to rural education and communication, better engagement between researchers and those intended to benefit from their research, and better translation of technology into practice,” he said.

He explained that PSU had the strongest rural extension operation in the United States university system. “When combined with UNE’s outstanding track record in rural research and engagement and in promoting the uptake of innovation, this will provide a strong focus for delivering the outcomes of scientific research to rural people,” he said.

Professor Martin said he expected that the i2A Centre would attract other researchers, farmers, rural service providers and government representatives to provide “a more concentrated focus on this topic, which is of vital importance to rural resilience and resurgence”. He said that – among other things – the i2A Centre was aiming to develop programs in collaboration with new and extending Australian Cooperative Research Centres.

UNE’s Ideas to Action (i2A) Centre was launched in the NSW Farmers Association pavilion at AgQuip today by Professor Martin, Professor Ted Alter from PSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, and the President of the NSW Farmers Association, Fiona Simson.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Professor Paul Martin (left) and Professor Ted Alter.