AgriLink The role of advisory services in farmers’ decision making for innovation uptake: conservation tillage. - AgriLink

The role of advisory services in farmers’ decision making for innovation uptake: conservation tillage.

Czech Republic, Central Bohemian and South Moravian region
Region

South Moravian and Central Bohemian region, The Czech Republic, are agricultural regions neighboring the capital city (Central Bohemian region) or the second biggest city Brno (South Moravian region).

Region map.

Both regions (Central Bohemia and South Moravia Region) copes with water scarcity, therefore adjusting of conservation tillage to local conditions is a big challenge. More than 50 % of arable land in the Czech Republic is an erosion endangered area. A strategy has been introduced to spread the area where conservation tillage will be obliged to use by the year 2030. The pre-research questioning has shown, that even if in both regions the awareness of such innovation was not new, there has been lots of obstacles.

 

Study focus

The study is focused on the implementation of conservation tillage. Due to the past communist policy, where the merging of plots and removing of hedges and ditches was required, the high percentage of Czech agricultural area is endangered by erosion. Even though, the Ministry of Agriculture deals with this problem and has introduced several regulations, erosion risk area remains a big challenge for the whole Czech agriculture.

The type of agricultural holdings involved in case study conservation tillage consists of 41 % of sole holders and the rest are holdings. The average area of interviewed agricultural farm was 1 624 ha and the majority of the land was leased.

In the Czech Republic, there are many measures certified by the Ministry of Agriculture to fulfil cross compliance (e.g. the requirement for soil protection). Some of them are based on organizational changes (e.g. shape of a parcel, crop rotation), others are based on agro-technical measures (such as no-tillage, sub-tillage, sowing into intercrops).

Unfortunately, cross compliance conditions have been changed unexpectedly by state and some farmers do not meet the requirements anymore. Some of them adopted an innovation with the goal to fulfil requirements, which caused big investment in machinery. But at the end, they have not met the requirements again.

Full report is available here.

Partner and responsible person contact

UZEI

Martin Mistr, dr.mistr@gmail.com

Institute of Agricultural Economics and information (UZEI) has a vast experience in working with rural development policy. The department of advisory services provide the certification of accredited advisors. The Multi-actor working group, coordinated by the UZEI, prepares the new scheme of advisory services in the new CAP period.

Lessons learned
1 Most farmers are specialists.
They have a wide range of information, overview, and knowledge in the area of conservation tillage. Many of them were pioneers, who started the innovation process several years ago due to a lack of labour sources. Some of them hadn’t found an appropriate independent advisory body and set cooperation with suppliers, researchers, or another farmer to carry out their own research (such as trial experiments on the farm, monitoring on the field, …). The form of entity is not important.
2 The advisory service system is provided by universities, research institutes, and farmers unions.
They all are very active in the awareness stage. Workshops and seminars are organized, where many outputs from research projects are presented. Research institutes are involved in the national program “Support of demonstrations farms”, where some procedures are shown directly on the spot. Many Researchers and advisors working at universities and research institutes are well known and respected experts and they spread their research outcomes via booklets, handouts, or national agricultural journals.
3 The lack of available independent advisory services was the reason in some cases why some farmers implement innovation with the help of suppliers.
Farmers use the advantage, that suppliers are willing to lend a technology or a machine, and farmers can test it without any investment.
4 Accredited advisors play the main role in the transfer of long-term information about state requirements.
They are periodically trained by ministry staff and researchers. However, accredited advisors without an additional source of innovation experience (such as research, farm field experiments, operational groups, or supplier development centres) have a little chance to contribute to the practical innovation process on the farm.
5 Lack of coordination and methodological support within the agricultural knowledge and innovation system is the main obstacle.
Many advisors and farmers stressed out this fact. In addition, farmers have missed consistency and a long-lasting direction of the agricultural policy and the related law. These uncertainties were one of the most significant gaps and barriers for farmers to innovate.

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