FarmDemo Training Kit: Design guide for on-farm demonstrations
The guide offers an overview of the most important elements that should be considered when it comes to preparing, carrying out and evaluating on-farm demonstrations. It proposes 6 simple steps to follow when designing an on-farm demonstration event, starting from a clear definition of the objectives and ending with a good evaluation and follow-up. Throughout, this guide offers concrete tips and tricks and provides specific tools to support the design of your event.
The FarmDemo design guide is available in 11 languages:
Other tools and resources can be found at the FarmDemo training kit page.
Farm Inventory: Country Report Posters
AgriDemo-F2F, together with its sister project PLAID, developed a European-wide, geo-referenced inventory, to provide a global view of on-farm demonstration activities and knowledge exchange modalities between farmers. The inventory reveals already a wide range of these type of activities, but the extent of this diversity in Europe needs to be properly assessed.
These posters offer the first insights, per country, of the data collected. In total more than 700 farms and almost 400 organisations, performing on-farm demonstrations, have been surveyed.
The posters have been presented and discussed at the FarmDemo Supra-regional meetings organized by PLAID project in Venice (7th February 2018), Poland (20th March 2018) and Leuven (27th March 2018)
Poster are available by clicking on the country name:
Case study reports (Structural characteristics, functional characteristics and effectiveness)
These reports present an overview of the in-depth analysis performed on a total of 35 case studies, carried out during the AGriDemo-F2F project. These 35 cases represent a diverse array of demonstrations approaches and activities, occurring throughout Europe.
The analysis focuses on 3 main aspects of on-farm demonstrations:
- Structural characteristics (D3.2), involving characteristics related to the network, actors involved, roles of actors and governance;
- Functional characteristics (D4.2), describing mechanisms and tools that are being used for recruitment, interaction and learning during the demonstration; and
- Peer learning characteristics (D5.3), which aim to capture the effectiveness of demonstration approaches, by looking at both the event and nature of learning that takes places during demonstration event.
Data was collected by all partners, following the methodological guidelines for data gathering and analysis (D3.1-4.1-5.2):
Recommendations for AKIS governance and Policies on support for farmer-to-farmer learning approaches
PLAID and AgriDemo-F2F have cooperated to formulate a set of key messages, primarily intended to support R&I policy makers and funders in the European Commission, in National Ministries and Regional authorities to increase the impact of their programmes with these advantages. However, these recommendations are also intended to provide value to the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) including educational bodies and the demonstration organisers themselves.
These recommendations have been designed and improved in interaction with experts and stakeholders, and inspired by data collected throughout the project. The key messages have been developed into four policy briefs:
- Demonstration as part of the dissemination activities in the innovation support projects in EU
- Education and training to enhance demonstration for farmers, facilitators and demo organisers
- Supporting Demonstration through Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) Funding Schemes
- Setting long term (EU) demonstration networks and exchange programmes
The PLAID virtual farm was produced, as a proof of concept, as part of the PLAID H2020 project. It was developed as a means to widen access to on farm demonstration, using digital technology. A simulated gaming platform was created, to represent a typical mixed farm in Europe. The platform can host 360 degree videos (omni-directional), of agricultural innovations, giving viewers access to information hosted at one site, reducing the need and time required to search for relevant information. The 360 degree videos can record experiences difficult to achieve at a live demonstration, for example, an unique angle of machinery or view of practical animal husbandry not easily obtained. The experience is often different from that obtained at a live event. The virtual farm combines the use of gaming technology, already in use, with knowledge that can be useful to farmers, advisors and other stakeholders. The platform can be used on a standard desk top or laptop or using an android phone and cardboard headset to get an immersive experience.
The VF was widely showcased across Europe and was warmly received. The proof of concept is being further developed, professionally, to produce a fully functional virtual experience that can be used to widen experiences, giving a wider audience the opportunity to experience innovations, when required.
Virtual Demonstration guide
Not all participants can access live on-farm demonstration, virtual demonstrations can be used produced to widen the access the information. These virtual demonstrations can also be used as a source of reference for farmers and advisors to refer to after an event. There are not produced to replace on-farm demonstration but to produce an output after the event.
During the PLAID project video training was offered to farmers and advisors. These experiences form the basis of this guide. It provides tips on how to produce informative videos using simple means. This guide follows the three steps of each video production: planning, shooting, editing. The focus is on the specific requirements of producing videos for agriculture. It is produced for beginners: farmers, consultants, advisors, but also researchers in national and international projects who would like to produce simple instructional videos themselves as part of their dissemination activities.
PLAID Information notes
Note 1: A typology of demonstration farming
The diversity in European agricultural demonstration was explored by developing a typology of demonstration farm types. The typology used two key dimensions: “sustainability” and “institutional setting”. Using cluster analysis on 1200 demonstration farms in the database, seven demonstration types emerged.
- Professional commercial livestock extension.
- Farmer-led commercial development
- Environmentally sustainable horticulture/orcharding
- Farmer-led community development
- Research-based innovation extension
- Externally funded community development
- Small informal crop demonstrations
The clustering technique demonstrated that there are clear differences between the types of demonstrations which are typically led by farmers and other members of the agricultural sector. Some common topics of demonstration (e.g. commercial livestock, crops) have common patterns in the numbers and characteristics of participants, and expertise of the demonstration organisers.
Key findings indicated:
- Clusters differed in their objectives
- Clusters that showed more involvement of women focused more on social and environmental objectives
- Demonstration types organised by farmers rather than external organisations appear to have higher engagement (participation) of women
- Some demonstration approaches focused on different production types
- Demonstration types were not evenly distributed across Europe
This information note details one way of clustering demonstration activities in Europe. The demonstration farm types developed allow us to explore the data in more detail, but do not represent the only way of grouping the data. Further analysis of the data or a more comprehensive study focused specifically on some of the issues could provide us with further insights into the different types of demonstration and how effective they are at promoting sustainable agriculture.
Note 2: How does demonstration work?
Understanding how and why demonstration is an effective means of changing behaviour is an important step in developing good demonstration farms. This information note is based on the PLAID conceptual framework and explores why demonstration farming is an effective means of encouraging farmers to adopt innovations, what key components are required and why.
Key findings indicated:
- The concept of on-farm demonstration was developed to show farmers new scientific principles for agriculture through hands-on learning; written means of transferring knowledge had proved ineffective
- Providing interactive experiences in the demonstration is important to make the attitudes stronger and more accessible, leading to greater consistency between attitudes and behaviour.Providing interactive experiences in the demonstration is important to make the attitudes stronger and more accessible, leading to greater consistency between attitudes and behaviour.Providing interactive experiences in the demonstration is important to make the attitudes stronger and more accessible, leading to greater consistency between attitudes and behaviour.
- Creating new beliefs about innovation through knowledge transfer leads to a change in attitude
- Experience also increases control beliefs, i.e. “I know I can because I’ve done it before” or “I know it will work because I’ve seen it work”.
- Peer to peer involvement works by increasing social congruence. Similarities between the message giver and receiver make it easier to communicate knowledge
- Peer to peer involvement also assists by enhancing the validity of the information when received from farmers in a similar position.
- Confirmation from the peer group is often, but not always, important for changing behaviour.
- The farmer must believe that he/she has control over the process in order to implement an innovation. Changing attitudes by knowledge transfer alone is not enough to ensure change.
- Getting farmers to think deeply about the innovation results in strong and long-lasting attitude change
- Traits a presenter exhibits such as institutional authority, likability, expertise and credibility help to promote behavioural change
- Features of the message such as personal relevance and wording are also important.
A key message here is that knowledge transfer alone is insufficient, a contention confirmed in PLAID case studies. To stimulate and enable farmers to make changes on their own farm, other necessary preconditions for change also need to be addressed.
Note 3: The role of demonstration in promoting innovation
Innovations in agriculture emerge from numerous different sources; the audience targeted by demonstrations is varied and has multiple, often differing needs. How innovations are demonstrated to farmers is thus an important issue that influences the success of demonstration activities. This note focuses on how differences in the nature of the innovation affect its uptake.
Key findings indicated:
- Demonstration can be “problem driven” (resolving an issue that may require multiple innovations) or “innovation driven” (promoting a new innovation)
- The source of the innovation affects both how it is likely to be viewed positively by farmers and how the innovation is demonstrated
- High readiness innovations appeal to the average farmer, but more innovative farmers may not adopt it as there is “nothing new about it”
- Low readiness innovations will appeal more to innovative farmers who have the resources to experiment. For the average farmer, demonstration of low readiness innovations increases awareness but is less likely to lead to adoption
- Demonstration of innovations to promote sustainable agriculture need to consider the whole farm, or even broader context such as the wider agri-food system
- Because sustainability covers the whole farming system, demonstrations of sustainability innovations need to connect with farmers in a variety of situations and with a variety of motivations
- Farmers generally do not immediately adopt the innovation demonstrated
- If there is an urgent problem to be fixed (such as drought), innovation adoption can be rapid. Speed of adoption is thus dependent on the urgency with which the issue needs to be addressed.
The type of approach used to demonstrate new innovations depends on whether the demonstration is driven by the innovation or by a problem that needs to be solved, the source of the innovation (innovative farmers, experimental farms, scientific research, or private companies), and how ready the innovation is to be adopted. Special consideration also needs to be taken of how to demonstrate innovations that primarily promote sustainability (e.g. environmental protection). Farmers often use demonstration as part of a broader information gathering process. It should therefore not be expected that there will be any immediate adoption of innovations that do not address an urgent problem.