The complexity of organic farming requires farmers to have a very high level of knowledge and skills. But exchange on organic farming techniques remains limited. Coordinated by IFOAM EU, the OK-Net Arable project promotes exchange of knowledge among farmers, farm advisers and scientists with the aim to increase productivity and quality in organic arable cropping all over Europe. OK-Net Arable involves 17 partners from countries all over Europe and is funded by Horizon 2020, the EU’s framework programme for Research and Innovation.
OK-Net Arable has three objectives:
- The project will synthesize the scientific and practical knowledge available about organic arable farming and identify the best methodologies for exchanging this knowledge. Based on this easily understandable advisory material will be developed.
- It will create a European network of farmers to exchange experiences and discuss the advisory material developed by the project.
- Finally, the project will create an online platform offering evidence-based advisory material as well as facilitating farmer-to-farmer learning. This platform will be a virtual meeting place for farmers, advisers and researchers that would otherwise not be able to meet.
OK-Net Arable takes a very innovative approach in that in all stages of the project, farmers play a prominent role. Much more than being asked for advice, farmers contribute to a process of co-creation of knowledge throughout the project.
NEW PLATFORM FOR FARMERS TO FIND ORGANIC SOLUTIONS AND EXCHANGE KNOWLEDGE
OK-Net Arable has launched a knowledge platform aimed at filling the gap in the exchange of information between farmers, farm advisers and scientists across Europe. Together, we as farmers and farm associations can use OK-Net Arable to find practical organic solutions, and at the same time discuss how it works on the field, in our geographic and climatic conditions. This should enable us to give feedback on the solutions, improve them and, in the end, to increase productivity and quality in organic arable cropping all over Europe. Farmer’s needs were taken into account at every stage of development in order to make it easy for you to use. The platform is available in 10 languages (English, Bulgarian, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian) and the solutions are divided according to the most relevant topics in organic arable farming: Soil quality and fertility, nutrient management, pest and disease control, weed management and solutions for specific crops. Not only can we find solutions and engage with each other via this platform, we can also propose solutions. We hope this will help improve exchange of knowledge among farmers.
Knowledge exchange for better farming
Despite substantial growth of organic farming in the EU over the last decade, concerns have been raised whether organic farming is productive enough compared to conventional farming. On the other hand, evidence shows that the more experienced an organic farmer is, the smaller the yield difference with conventional farms. Indeed, organic agriculture works as a complex system which requires a very high level of knowledge. By promoting co-creation and exchange of knowledge, the OK-Net Arable project therefore has significant potential to increase productivity and quality in organic farming.
Scientific analysis of constraints in organic arable cropping
Based on most recent scientific literature, OK-Net Arable identified the barriers for increasing productivity in organic arable cropping and made recommendations in the areas of soil fertility and nutrient management, weed control and pest and disease control. Read the report
Farmer innovation groups share common challenges
OK-Net Arable works with 14 farmer innovation groups, located in 10 countries distributed throughout Europe. These are groups of organic arable farmers engaged in research and innovation. OK-Net Arable brought together the common challenges identified by the groups in a report. These include weed management, soil fertility, and pest and disease control. Data from the farmer innovation groups show a wide range of crop yields. This indicates there is need, but also a clear possibility to improve farm yields. The report gives a good overview of challenges faced by organic arable farmers in Europe and presents solutions that the farmer innovation groups have been working on. All those working on this topic may be interested. Read the report
Best methods for learning and knowledge exchange
OK-Net Arable has analysed how farmers and farm advisers access information. The findings show that the use of printed media is still wide-spread and that physical meetings (e.g. field days) are preferred to anonymous online courses. Nevertheless, it was also found that social media is changing the way information is spread and highlights the importance of online videos in the exchange of knowledge across borders. Read the report
For more information please send an email to bram.moeskops [at] ifoam-eu.org
Or visit www.ok-net-arable.eu
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 652654. This communication only reflects the author’s view. The Research Executive Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.