Exchanging knowledge to improve organic arable farming

New paper published. Exchanging knowledge to improve organic arable farming: An evaluation of knowledge exchange tools with farmer groups across Europe

Organic farming is knowledge intensive. To support farmers in improve yields and organic agriculture systems, there is a need to improve how knowledge is shared. There is an established culture of sharing ideas, successes and failures in farming. The internet and information technologies open-up new opportunities for knowledge exchange involving farmers, researchers, advisors and other practitioners. The OK-Net Arable project brought together practitioners from regional Farmer Innovation Groups across Europe in a multi-actor project to explore how online knowledge exchange could be improved. Feedback from the groups was obtained for 36 ‘tools’, defined as end-user materials, such as technical guides, videos on websites informing about practices in organic agriculture. The groups also selected one practice to test on farms, sharing their experiences with others through workshops, exchange visits and through videos. Farmers valued the same key elements in face-to-face exchanges (workshops and visits) as in online materials. These were the opportunity for visual observation, deeper understanding of the context in which a practice was being tried and details about what worked and what did not work. Videos, decision support tools and social media can provide useful mechanisms for taking knowledge exchange online, if farmers’ experiences and practical implication are shared, and more visual information about the context, economics, successes and failures is provided. Online platforms and forums should not be expected to replace but rather to complement face to face knowledge exchange in improving organic farming.

Bliss, Katie; Padel, Susanne; Cullen, Beth; Ducottet, Charline; Mullender, Samantha; Rasmussen, Ilse A. and Moeskops, Bram (2018) Exchanging knowledge to improve organic arable farming: An evaluation of knowledge exchange tools with farmer groups across Europe. Organic Agriculture, online, X.

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