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From Lab to Land: Making Knowledge Transfer Work April 19, 2013

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau

Can’t help but regularly refer to my interview with Howard Buffett, Billionaire invester Warren Buffett’s son. Hey, it’s probably the biggest public figure interview this reporter has ever done. Hope it’s not the last.

Warren (standing) and Howard Buffett at a Birkshire Hathaway Meeting. Son Howard describes himself first and foremost as a farmer and is deeply dedicated to agriculture research, especially no- and low-till research. (AP file photo/ Nati Harnik)

In the original Q&A story I did not include everything Mr. Buffett and I talked about. One segment of our conversation had to do with working with our land-grant universities so that research transfers to the farms and ranches to ensure strength and growth in an industry. So, I wrote a follow-up article discussing this point. If you don’t read Knowledge Transfer from Lab to Land: Making it Happen, you might read the key points I got out of the interview below.

1. First, it’s a two-way street. All stakeholders to the research have to be engaged, especially the farmers and ranchers wanting to make it viable on a commercial scale.

2. We must be careful not to get too comfortable in our roles. Again, all key stakeholders need to ask themselves what might work better.

3. Plus, all stakeholders need to believe in one another and support each others’ efforts.

4. The PH.D. can’t lord his or her depth of knowledge and science over the layman. The Layman can’t assume the researcher isn’t willing to listen to the scaled, commercial approach.

5. Institutions can get institutionalized in their thinking. They need the influence of others to stay fresh, leading-edge and challenged.

6. The research results must be shared to ensure the advancement and strength of an industry.

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