AgriLink Living Labs - AgriLink

Living Labs

AgriLink project aim to test some of the theories from the conceptual framework with the help of 6 Living Laboratories.

AgriLink Living Laboratories: short presentations

AgriLink established six Living Laboratories, in which scientists, advisors and farmers work together to develop new advisory techniques, in response to particular industry issues.

The approach is focused on the processes of knowledge exchange, through facilitating communication between all the involved actors. Short presentations of each Living Lab and its goals are presented below.

The Italian Living Lab: rebuilding a local food community starting from sustainable farming and collective actions

Country: Italy

Contact person(s): Milva Cudicio (milva.cudicio@gmail.com); Davide Zimolo (davide.zimolo@gmail.com)

Starting from communal land (heritage of Middle ages) in the surroundings of Udine a group of young farmers and citizens started to experiment agronomic choices and value chain building in order to mitigate farming abandonment and its consequences on landscape and food sovereignty. In 5 years good quality wheat has been obtained and processed into flour and bread by local bakeries and citizens. The initiative offers an economically sustainable alternative to small-medium farms and for the management of communal land and contributes to environment preservation and to the identity of the community. The required knowledge ranges from agronomic issues (crop rotation, soil management, minimum tillage, variety choice etc.) to organization skills/attitudes, marketing and legal constrains. The knowledge is partly provided by a local association but the diversity of needs is very challenging. The group is gradually involving new farmers and gaining new land (from non-farmers land owners) to be managed commonly.

The purpose or central question of your Lab: which advisory skills, knowledge and structure in order to supply the diversity of knowledge and information required to rebuild a local food community?

Sub goals:

A. to identify knowledge inside and outside the group, relationship and needs.

B. to involve other actors (mainly citizens, processor and consumer) in the knowledge sharing.

C. to formulate new business models.

The Latvian living lab is developing an online platform to improve the interaction of farmers and producers with agricultural advisory services in horticulture

Country: Latvia

Contact person(s): Dalija Seglina (dalija.seglina@llu.lv); Emils Kilis (emils.kilis@gmail.com)

There is presently no online repository that provides farmers and producers with an accurate sense of the materials and forms of advice provision that are available in Latvia. In view of this, an online platform is being developed to bring together all the resources currently available to users of advisory services, and allow them to quickly find what they need. In addition, the platform will encourage farmers and producers to suggest areas where advice and assistance are currently lacking. Based on this, advisors will endeavour to meet the practical and commercial needs of the agricultural community. In the process of developing this platform, the living lab team will consult with advisors to identify areas where improvements and additional courses and materials are necessary, and discuss their experiences of employing online and other digital tools in the process of assisting farmers and producers. Users of advisory services will be approached to determine what the online platform should include.

The purpose or central question of your Lab: Improved engagement of farmers and producers with (agricultural) advisory system

Sub goals:

A. Develop (online) platform to improve communication between users and advisers.

B. Align demand (knowledge/skill needs) and supply (topics/forms).

The Romanian Living lab aims to help small farmers better orientate in a confusing informational landscape

Country: Romania

Contact person(s): Raluca Barbu (raluca@highclere-consulting.com)

We will achieve this by working with a cooperative of vegetable producers of about 100 members facing rapid development. Based on a thorough needs assessment conducted in their community, we will assist them on two particular subjects critical for their positive evolution. First, we will support them get through new financial challenges for consolidating their activity and economic position as a production cooperative.  Secondly, we will help increase their marketing knowledge to become more competitive and to fulfill the terms of cooperation with their retail partners as efficiently and professionally as possible. We base this work on extensive research showing these challenges are quite common throughout agricultural Romania. So, we hope the results of this Lab will be replicated in other parts of the country. The novelty is the format we will deliver this project, as we will try to put in place a communication mechanism to partially fill in the gap generated by the dismantling of former state extension services. We will, thus, stress on peer-to-peer interaction, expert support and fast access to necessary information.

The purpose of Romanian Living Lab: To improve access to reliable, timely information for 1 cooperative within Romania

Sub goals:

A. Establish the willingness to collaborate and participate in the Living Lab with 1 or 2 farmers’ groups across the country.

B. Establish trust.

C. Develop a good understanding of these farmers’ actual professional needs.

D. Establish a working communication mechanism (channels, principles, etc).

E. Design good informational materials to suit their needs OR identify relevant experts with key knowledge.

F. Define the potential business model needed in order to improve the access to reliable information for Vărăști coop and test the willingness-to pay for this service after the Living-Lab.

Norwegian Living Lab: Crop rotation between farms

Country: Norway

Contacts at Ruralis: Egil Petter Stræte (egil.petter.strate@ruralis.no); Gunn-Turid Kvam (gunn.turid.kvam@ruralis.no)

In the region of Trøndelag in Norway a number of stakeholders have expressed ambitions to increase the value added from agriculture, and to improve sustainability, with the intent to try to include most of the life cycle of resources/products. As a part of a regional agricultural innovation program, L21T, the Norwegian Living Lab aims to improve value added for farmers, increasing crop rotation on agricultural land especially across farm properties. A model for establishing and management of groups of farmers that practice crop rotation between their farms (crop rotation rings) will be establish, with the aim of developing a new advisory service on cooperation between farmers on crop rotation across farms.

The purpose of Norwegian Living Lab: To improve the environment and value added for farmers through crop rotation between farms

Subgoals:

A. Improve agronomic knowledge for farmers.

B. Strengthen cooperation between farms.

C. Exploit advantages by crop rotation to increase production per hectare, reduced costs and more climate friendly conventional grain production.

D. Develop a new service delivered by advisors.

The Spanish Living Lab is focused on advisory service in Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Country: Spain

Contact person(s): Alberto Lafarga (alafarga@intiasa.es); Noelia Telletxea (ntelletxea@intiasa.es); Javier Torrecilla (jtorrecilla@intiasa.es)

The advisory service of INTIA has been operating for more than 30 years. 60 to 70% of the queries of the farmers are related to crop protection and, although nowadays it is mainly based on the use of pesticides, there is a clear evolution towards a more sustainable crop protection model. This evolution is an unstoppable innovative process that needs the support of all involved stakeholders. In the framework of a recent European project (LIFE AGROintegra) several activities have been developed to bring alternative techniques closer to the sector. In one of these activities the Pest Monitoring and Warning System of INTIA has been improved: it is a GIS online platform that helps in the decision-making process of farmers and technicians in the integrated management of crops. The aim of the living lab is to improve the advisory service in Integrated Pest Management (IPM), making a collaborative use this Pest Monitoring and Warning System and introducing other communication technologies and group advisory tools to improve learning on IPM and the transference of knowledge among different stakehoders.

The purpose or central question of the Lab: To involve different stakeholders (farmers, cooperatives, agribusinesses, agro food industry, technology providers and policy maker) to improve the current advisory service, solving farmers’ real needs and achieving a more sustainable use of pesticides

Sub goals:

A. Technology: To create and improve informatics support tools and encourage their use.

B. Communication: To improve the transfer of knowledge, access to information and dissemination, through collaborative tools as demonstrations, thematic groups, etc.

C. End user’s involvement: Empowerment of farmers, give them more space to propose, test, validate, promoting peer to peer learning.

The Dutch-Belgium living lab is a collective experimentation and learning process on improved innovation support to sustainable soil management and maize cultivation.  Looking differently at soil management together

Country: Netherlands and Belgium

Contact person(s): Jacqueline Ulen (jacqueline.ulen@wur.nl); Jorieke Potters (jorieke.potters@wur.nl)

Due to changes in legislation and public perception the sense of urgency to improve the sustainability of maize cultivation has increased considerably over the last years. However substantial uncertainty and divergence exists over upcoming legislation, the relations between stakeholders, farmers’ effect on water quality and the feasibility of solutions. In this field it is the purpose of the Dutch-Belgium living lab to develop innovation support services and tools that supports the ability and willingness of farmers to engage in more sustainable maize production. The Living Lab aims to contribute to the following changes in the perspective of farmers, advisors and contractors: Short term production to long term farm management, general farm solutions to field specific solutions and to broaden the perspective from maize cultivation to sustainable feed production. 

The Living Lab is a collective experimentation space. Stakeholders can propose topics for experimentation, this will be placed on a dynamic agenda. As a start the agenda contains the following actions: 

·        Catch Crop Tree: Development of decision support tree to improve the cultivation of catch crops.

·        Insight in Water: Develop and test an easy and secure method for farmers to assess the water quality on their own farm. Discuss the effects and possible solutions.

·        Kitchen Table Talk: Develop guiding principles for Kitchen table conversation between farmer contractor advisor.

The purpose or central question of your Lab: Making maize cultivation more sustainable

Sub goals:

A. Creating awareness among farmers with respect to nitrate leaching and what the individual stake is of every farmer.

B. Creating and/or stimulating the use of tools for farmers to enable the farmers to improve their maize cultivation.

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