AgriLink WP2 (Innovation case studies in Focus Regions) - AgriLink

WP2 (Innovation case studies in Focus Regions)

WP2 aims at obtaining a comprehensive description of both the microAKIS and R-FAS at regional level related with farmer’s innovation uptake in two layers:

  • In-depth insights of the role of advisory services in farmers’ decision-making for innovation uptake at case study level;
  • Generalizable knowledge at the EU level, built on case study cross-comparison, on the role of advisory suppliers in the farmer’s micro-AKIS underlying the decision-making processes regarding the innovation uptake, while accounting for the EU diversity of R-FAS, farming structures and socio-economic regional contexts. 

WP2 keys concepts are farmer microAKIS, R-FAS, and Focus Region:

  • MicroAKIS describes the micro-scale knowledge and innovation system that farmers personally assemble and mobilise, including the range of individuals and organisations from whom they seek service and exchange knowledge with, the processes involved, and how they translate this into innovative activities (or not);
  • R-FAS is the set of organisations that enable farmers to develop farm-level solutions, enhance skills and coproduce knowledge with advisors. AgriLink adopted a pluralist view of advisory, including organisations devoted to supply formal advice and brokering services, informal providers and others, such as the new hi-tech actors or the supply of advice offered by inputs sellers or farming products buyers;
  • Focus Region is as a farm census region in which data collection on micro-AKIS and R-FAS are gathered, allowing to account for the EU farming structure and socioeconomic regional diversity.

WP2 develops and implements a methodological framework to gather empirical data on micro-AKIS and R-FAS in the context of the innovation uptake, adopting a mixed-method approach, combining case study approach with quantitative survey-type data collection. Case studies are delimitated at the Focus Region level and address a group of farmers representative of a specific innovation (e.g. biologic pest control), comprising both adopters, non-adopters (and innovation droppers, when relevant), and the respective R-FAS. 

The WP2 methodological framework is implemented in three steps: 1) Case studies selection; 2) Farmer’s survey; 3) In-depth interviews with AKIS relevant key actors in the case-study context, and a survey to advisory supply organisations. 

The work is conducted in 32 case studies and in relation to 8 major innovation areas. 

Regions map


WP2 innovation clusters and sustainability challenges

WP2 main outputs

  • Research protocol on how to gather qualitative insights and quantitative data on the demand and supply of advice in the context of innovation uptake, accounting for the regional and the specific farming background;
  • In-depth insights of the role of advisory services in farmers’ decision-making at the case study level, comprising 32 case studies spread by 13 EU countries;
  • EU level typology of farmer’s microAKIS related to the eight innovation clusters;
  • R-FAS comprehensive description for each case study, crossing innovation, farming structures and political context respecting advisory;
  • Identification of ‘best-fit practices’ and good examples of agricultural advisory organisations and systems in the context of innovation uptake by farmers

WP2 main contributions and impact

  • Create empirical evidence on farmer’s microAKIS and R-FAS in the context of innovation uptake at the EU level useable for agricultural advisory policy design and evaluation;
  • Improve understanding of farmers’ decision-making processes related with innovation uptake across the EU and the impact of advisory services on the sustainability of agricultural practices;
  • Identify a set of good examples and best practices for well-connected and effective advisory systems, focussing on ways of preserving practical knowledge in the long-term and including identification of success elements and possible novels roles for advisors with a view to boosting innovation and improving networking.

The final report can be downloaded here: AgriLink_Synthesis Report of WP2.Small

9 innovation clusters :

1.The innovation cluster ‘Autonomous vehicles, robots, drones, intelligent sensors and precision farming’ (TECH cluster) is devoted to investigating the importance of new technologies in the agricultural systems to improve efficiency and facilitate the agricultural labour. Examples of cases studied are: the use of drones to collect data, which can be used to increase the environment performance of farms, enabling a more efficient use of agricultural inputs (water, nitrogen, pesticides); the use of intelligent water sensors on the soil (to monitor parameters such as humidity, temperature and salinity at different soil depths) to improve the efficient use of water; or the use of robots with milking cows allows to save time and reduce the waste during the milking process. 

  1. The innovation cluster ‘Biological pest control’ (BIOP cluster) is devoted to investigating the use of natural mechanisms to control pests such as insects, mites, weeds and plant diseases to reduce the use of pesticides in crops, to increase the biodiversity and beneficial organisms, to maintain the profitability of the crops and to supply food products without pesticide residues to consumers. Examples of cases studied are: methods of sexual confusion of the insects, the introduction of natural predators of pests (e.g. ladybirds and parasitic wasps to control greenflies), proving special shelters for useful animals (insect houses), etc. and the implementation of ecological infrastructures network to enhance the conservation of biodiversity and the provision of ecological services (e.g. biological control of pests, diseases and weeds; maintenance of soil fertility; clean air and water; shelter and food for locally rare birds, reptiles and insects). 
  2. The innovation cluster ‘Soil improving cropping systems’ (SOIL cluster) is devoted to cropping systems that improve soil quality and have positive impacts on the profitability and sustainability of cropping systems. Examples of cases studied are: the use of cover cropping, often in combination with tillage, mulching or herbicide treatment under the rows as a practice to reduce compaction, draining and erosion of soil, increase organic matter, allows machinery access and reduce disease pressing; the use of non-inverse tillage approaches combined with using different types of cover crops to combat decreasing soil quality due to soil compaction by heavy machinery and intensified cropping plan. 
  3. The innovation cluster ‘Retro-innovation” (re-creation, re-inventing, re-introducing traditional products/crops) cluster (RETR cluster) presents cases where traditional products/crops are made through innovative ways. Retro-innovations represent business opportunities for the sustainable use of resources that through innovations create conditions for sustainable growth. Cases studied in this cluster include a new, mechanized, hay-making technique for mowing, turning and collecting hay rapidly replacing traditional hay-making by hand; and the production of new dairy products.
  4. The innovation cluster ‘Introducing new crops’ (legumes, superfoods, heathy seeds, etc.), abbreviated to NCRO cluster, presents cases of crops that were not traditionally cultivated in these regions or crops whose production had declined. Usually the new crops present beneficial healthy properties. Examples in this cluster are: grain-legumes, which have high functional and nutritional properties both as animal feed and human food and cultivation; the processing and trade of stevia products.
  5. The innovation cluster ‘Developing new activities’ (recreation, healthcare, wild resources, renewable energy, etc.), abbreviated to NACT cluster, presents activities related to the production of bioenergy, in order to allow farming production processes be eco-friendly and cost saving, such as pocket digestion (a technology where the anaerobic digestion process is applied to proprietary biomass flows for the on-site production of renewable energy) and renewable energy as an alternative to traditional forms of energy.
  6. The innovation cluster ‘Direct marketing and local markets’ (DMAR cluster) presents alternative ways of selling agricultural products locally, directly or through short circuits in a way that improve economical sustainability of the farms. Examples of cases presented in this cluster are: local markets (to sell directly to final consumers the farmers’ production) and the direct selling of baskets of fresh agricultural products organised by groups of small-scale farmers.

8.The innovation cluster ‘Natural resources common management’ (water, grazing, forest, etc.), abbreviated to COMM cluster, refers to the management of natural resources and how that management affects the efficiency of use those resources. Examples are: utilization of common pasture to sheep; supporting activities for the preservation and restoration of ecological infrastructures in agricultural areas; crop production in order to mitigate farming abandonment. 

  1. The innovation cluster ‘Labour innovative arrangements & labour conditions’, abbreviated to LABO cluster, studies ways of cooperation among farmers in order to increase production and incomes. Examples include the development of new forms of outsourcing in France.

WP Leaders:
Livia Madureira (UTAD) and
Cristina Micheloni (VIN)

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