RISS: Getting the Right People Together
“The best ideas in farming come from farmers themselves” - Colleen McCulloch, RISS lead, Soil Association Scotland
Scotland’s Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) provides professional support to farmers interested in trying new things. It connects them with the right people and helps them develop a viable project.
Farmers know what’s right, or what might be right, for their business, but they often don’t have access to the right people to make their idea happen, capacity to try something new and fail, or time to bring a project together. RISS steps into that gap.
The farmer, land manager or crofter may be part of an existing group or come to us with a new idea. We allocate a facilitator from our partner organisations – someone who knows the subject, who organises meetings, brings in the right people, keeps things on track and researches how people in other places have met similar challenges.
Innovation doesn’t just mean lots of money and technology. It means people working together, testing ideas to get to the heart of the problem and going through a process to find feasible, sustainable solutions.
RISS groups so far have been working along the supply chain to produce oilseed rape as animal protein, for example, or to get more Scottish vegetables into schools. On-farm trials are happening on the west coast in conjunction with a soil scientist. A large-scale breeding programme is getting going across three grass-based dairy farms in the south-west under the eye of a genetic scientist.
Part of Scottish Rural Network, RISS is led by Soil Association Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS, who run farmer co-ops), SAC Consulting (part of Scotland's Rural College), Scotland Food and Drink and Innovative Farmers (farmer-led research organisation).
Partner Innovative Farmers are providing the platform for connecting groups. So on this site you'll find RISS projects alongside field labs and other farmer-led projects from across the UK, and the whole farming sector.
"With support from RISS there’s that one person who pulls it all together”Feed processor David McClelland, Organic Oilseed Rape group