The importance of technology transfer to modern agriculture

Posted on March 09, 2017

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Within the context of the agricultural industry, and particularly from the perspective of those involved in primary production, the term ‘Tech Transfer’ has often meant the delivery or dissemination of the latest information on best management practices, or perhaps a presentation on the newest technological tools. 

When we look through the literature on the topic, we find that knowledge dissemination, as described above, is now widely characterized under the terms ‘Knowledge Transfer’ or ‘Knowledge Translation and Transfer,’ defined as the transformation of knowledge into use through synthesis, exchange, dissemination, dialogue, collaboration and brokering among researchers and research users.

The term ‘Tech Transfer’ is becoming increasingly associated with the activities focused towards moving a concept along the research-development-commercialization process; ultimately leading to tangible products and technologies farmers can choose from the marketplace.    

The transfer of knowledge from research into farming practice is a constant requirement for the industry to develop new ways of working and thinking. It is crucial to realizing the value of innovative research. Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture funds research projects that provide new knowledge in both the Knowledge Transfer and the Tech Transfer (product development) streams.   

Ministry of Agriculture research funding has, by design, focused on applied research and development projects with the potential for on-farm application within a short time frame. Occasionally, Ministry programs will support more basic or theoretical research if there is the potential for a significant innovative advance and benefit to the industry.  

Contrary to popular belief, publishing research results in an academic journal will not guarantee that those results are noticed or that someone will continue development into a tangible product that will reach the end user. Full development requires reaching out to and collaborating with development and commercial partners. Successful collaborations are formed among researchers across different universities or industries in order to advance the knowledge in a particular field or to further develop a technology.

The ultimate goal of research is to have it put to meaningful use in real-world settings. The knowledge translation section of Ministry grant applications, where the researcher describes how he/she will move towards that end, has become increasingly important in past years. 

This article was first published in Agriview. Republished with permission
For more information, visit the Agriculture Research page on www.saskatchewan.ca/agriculture.
Jeff Braidek, PhD
Research Specialist, Forages Agriculture Research Branch