Jim Wadleigh and his group at the Guelph Partnership for Innovation — whose motto is  “Connecting technology, money and people in Guelph” — produce a concise must-read weekly technology newsletter called e7GPI. It’s always full of thought-provoking bits, such as this edition which talked about a system called Innocentive, for matching research problems seekers with those who have research solutions.

According to Innocentive, which GPI describes a “former Eli Lilly employees who were frustrated at the traditional systems for setting research priorities in the pharma sector,” a healthy list of challenges are looking of solutions. These include the following:

  • novel approaches to protect maize from insect damage
  • methods to monitor encapsulation of active ingredients
  • extraction of specific proteins from oilseeds
  • browning in juice
  • leaf sampling in the field
  • aroma and flavour enhancers
  • water problems affecting people in developing countries
  • managing resistance to transgenic Bt corn without the use of refuges in corn growing regions.

This list is a bonanza for agricultural journalists. If the ag community is saying these problems need solutions, pursuing stories that deal with these topics is defensible and practical. What are editors looking for? Stories that haven’t been told. And  no one has told these stories to the extent that they’ve solved the problems yet, at least not to Innocentive’s standards.

This line of thinking made me wonder about agricultural journalists’ role in knowledge translation and transfer (KTT). For my doctorate, I’m looking into where student learning fits into KTT. Are agricultural journalists involved as well? Is the technology section in a farm paper, magazine or broadcast  an example of knowledge translation and transfer…or is it just good old reporting, and calling it something else merely an academic exercise?

If you have any thoughts on this matter, please chime in.

Below is a photo of European corn borer, from a U.S. website (it was the easiest to find). Two of the Innocentive challenges looking for solutions concern corn. This gross-looking critter, happily ensconced inside the stalk of a corn plant, is a big reason why.