New EU-project will contribute to increased knowledge and better farm advice in European agriculture

Centre for Rural Research will participate in the new EU-funded project AgriLink as a research partner. The project aims to stimulate sustainability transitions in European agriculture through gaining a better understanding of the roles played by farm advice in farmer decision-making.

Nyhetsbilde Foto: Colourbox

AgriLink: Agricultural Knowledge. Linking farmers, advisors and researchers to boost innovation is the full name of the project, which is based on the premise that the full range of advice-providing organizations need to be included in the assessment of service provision and innovation adoption.

- There is a need to achieve greater coherence between challenges for farmers in agriculture and the research community. The advisers play a key role here, as an intermediary between industry and research, explains Egil Petter Stræte from the Centre for Rural Research in Norway, who along with Gunn-Turid Kvam will be responsible for the implementation of the Norwegian contribution to the project.

Research and Practice

The AgriLink project will analyse and improve the role of farmer advice in eight areas of innovation that combine challenges identified in the “Strategic Approach to EU Agricultural Research & Innovation”.

An important basis is that AgriLink builds on insights and experiences from both research and practice. The methodology combines theoretical insights with innovative research methods within a multi-actor, transdisciplinary approach, from the perspective of individuals and organizations that farmers have requested services from and shares knowledge with.

26 focus regions will be the subject of analysis. Socio-technological scenario development will be used to explore transition pathways towards a more sustainable agriculture.

Further, newly developed advisory methods and new forms of involvement through research practice will be evaluated and further developed in the so-called "living laboratories" where farmers, advisors and researchers work together.

- Centre for Rural Research will contribute through providing studies of collaborative projects and advisory methods in Norway, and we will also participate in examining these new ways of working, using the living laboratories method. This method involves trying out new ways of working in real situations and combining it with follow-up research, involving the relevant stakeholders, so as to provide both evaluation and adjustment along the way, says Stræte.

Contributors from different disciplines

The project is coordinated by Pierre Labarthe at INRA in France, and 13 European countries are participating. The contributors are scientists in disciplines as various as institutional economics, innovation studies, AKIS studies and network sociology, in addition to advisors from public, private and farmer-owned organizations.

Participants from advisory services will be active in quality assurance and dissemination of results to ensure that all project findings are both scientifically sound and practically useful.

- I look forward to establish international networks of researchers within the field in order to learn more about how to work with expertise and advice in other countries, says Stræte, who is also involved in a project called “ The Competent farmer ”.  

AgriLink is funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 research programme and will run for four years. From Norway Centre for Rural Research participates as a research partner, while TINE, Landbruk21 Trøndelag and the County Governor of Sør-Trøndelag are user partners.