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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

Improving farmers competence by more efficient interaction between farmer, advisory services and research (COMPETENT FARMER)

Alternative title: Forbedring av bøndenes kompetanse gjennom mer effektiv samhandling mellom bonde, veileder og forsker (KOMPETENT BONDE)

Awarded: NOK 0.70 mill.

The main objective of the project Competent farmer was to contribute to improving advisory service to develop and strengthen the farmers' expertise. The Norwegian agricultural system of knowledge and innovation (AKIS) for the past decades has been through a strong restructuration from a dominating public extension service, to embedded advisory service by private actors associated with sales or purchasing organizations (such as Tine, Nortura and Felleskjøpet) or to independent services such as Norwegian Agricultural Extension Service. From the results, we see that farmers differ in terms of procurement and application of knowledge. More differentiated advisory services should be designed. In particular, communication in advisory meetings between farmer and advisor has been studied, both physical meetings and advisory service by communication technology. In these studies, we see that the relational competence of advisors is important. This is particularly important in situations where problems are complex, difficult to define and where the advisor points to challenges that the farmer does not look as a problem. The study also shows that advisors who use a more coach-like approach to communicate with farmers make the farmer more pleased with the meeting. This may be because the method contributes to a common understanding of the farmer's situation and challenges. In the project technology was used to support advisory service at distance and for groups, as well as use of Facebook. Information and communication technology (ICT) can serve as a good support for advisory services applied at distance. The technology can improve communication between farmers and advisors by offering a richer channel of communication than the phone. Service at distance has a benefit with saved time and travel expenses. Technology-based advice complements advisor's meeting with the farmer on the farm. The technology can provide an effective advisory session after a farm meeting. A weakness of ICT is that the threshold for using it can be high for some. Advisory service in groups using ICT can be a useful and effective support to other types of advisory service, such as individual meetings or physical group meetings. ICT-based grouping alone has limitations that are both technical (broadband capacity and competence for use) and partly of communication (demanding with dialogue in groups where participants are not so familiar with each other). A separate part of the project was about testing new ways of communication and interaction between farmers and advisors. Each business partner conducted a pilot study, tested new tools and methods of doing advisory service. Testing by pilot projects has been carried out with Felleskjøpet Agri (use of e-mail as information channel for various types of grain farmers), Green Research (integration of expert and experience-based knowledge), Nortura (group advice through ICT) and a joint pilot with Tine and Norwegian Agricultural Extension Service (group advisory service with benchmarking in regional groups, Grovfôr2020). For the advisory service organization's ability to innovate, it is important to find a balance between operational advice and development of competence. In the study there are indications that the issue of development is less emphasized in the organization of both advisory service (eg team composition) and in the work of developing the advisory product (eg internal knowledge sharing). Advisory service organizations that have access to research or have researchers themselves have a larger capacity of resources to search for and manage knowledge. This can enhance innovation and provide competitive advantages. One of the recommendations from the project is that advisory service organizations should strengthen innovation and changes in their own organization by having their own strategy of testing new measures (method, tools, etc.). Another recommendation is that the advisory service organizations and research institutions should cooperate to strengthen education, postgraduate education and competence development for advisors - and create a common environment for competence development for advisory service. The project was a collaboration between the research institutes Ruralis Institute of Rural and Regional Research (Project Manager), NIBIO, University of Oslo, Praxes AS and Trøndelag R&D Institute, as well as the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands and Agriscope in Switzerland. Business partners were represented in the project, both through co-funding and work in the pilot projects. The main funding of the project was from the Norwegian Research Funding for Agriculture and Food Industry. Business partners were Tine, Nortura, Norwegian Agricultural Extension Service, Felleskjøpet Agri and Green Research, commissioned by the Mid-Norwegian Cooperation Council for Agriculture. In addition, co-funding from the county councilors in Møre og Romsdal and Trøndelag.

For rådgiverorganisasjonene har prosjektet gitt mer bevissthet om kommunikasjonen mellom bonde og rådgiver, og gitt økt kunnskap om dette. Organisasjonene har hatt stor nytte av begrepet relasjonskompetanse. Begrepet vil få en sentral plass i opplæringa av rådgivere framover. Effekten av dette er en bedre og mer tilpasset rådgivingstjeneste overfor bonden. I neste omgang styrker dette bondens driftsresultater. For forskningsmiljøene har prosjektet bidratt med kompetanseutvikling knyttet til rådgiving og jordbrukets kunnskaps- og innovasjonssystem. Prosjektet har vært et springbrett til internasjonal forskning med deltakelse i to nye H2020-prosjekter. Det har vært betydelig læring om samhandling med rådgiverorganisasjonene. Effekten av dette er at forskning knyttet til rådgiving og kompetanseutvikling er blitt styrket i flere miljø, og vil være i stand til å videreføre forskning på relaterte tema, samt å inngå i flerfaglige prosjekter hvor rådgiving er en del av prosjektet.

The future of the Norwegian agriculture sector depends on an effective knowledge and innovation system. This project aims to strengthen how farmers develop their competence in such a system, and will provide both scientific and practical knowledge on how to do this. An important knowledge platform on the Norwegian agriculture innovation system will be developed. In cooperation with five industrial partners this project will develop and test new models and working methods to improve the farmers adaption of scientific knowledge, their means to combine this with practical knowledge, and implement this combined knowledge towards innovation in the agriculture sector. Important elements in the project are analysis of the innovation system, in-depth studies of advisory services, action research and participatory design for development, testing and practical implementation of working methods. Strong involvement from the business sector and emphasis on communication from the project enhances its potential to succeed and to contribute to reforms.

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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri