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Organic Farm Knowledge - A unique resource with tools for farmers across Europe

The Organic Farm Knowledge platform is dedicated to a variety of themes, e.g. pest control using beneficial organisms... (Photo: FiBL, Lukas Pfiffner)

Hens

... the keeping of laying hens and broilers... (Photo: FiBL, Thomas Alföldi)

Pigs

... and the welfare of pigs. (Photo: FiBL, Mirjam Holinger)

The online platform Organic Farm Knowledge (www.organic-farmknoweldge.org) intends to promote productivity and quality in organic farming across Europe by providing access to a wide range of tools and knowledge exchange among farmers, farm advisers and scientists. FiBL maintains the platform in collaboration with partners from the OK-Net Ecofeed project.

A great deal of knowledge about organic farming is already available throughout Europe, and it is constantly increasing. However, sometimes it is not easy to acquire this knowledge and to use it. Organic Farm Knowledge addresses this deficiency by providing an easy-to-use platform that offers a search function with numerous filter options.

The toolbox - the core of the platform

The core of the platform is the "toolbox". Available tools include, for instance, practical tips, factsheets, guides, online calculation tools and videos. The online platform offers the possibility for comments, discussions and questions on topics and resources. By promoting the exchange of good practices, it supports farmers and advisors in putting innovations into practice.

The collection of knowledge emerged from the Organic Knowledge Network Arable (OK-Net Arable), a three-year project with 17 partner organisations in twelve European countries. The project started in 2015 and aimed to improve productivity and quality in organic farming. The platform was then enriched with content from the follow-up project, the Organic Knowledge Network on Monogastric Animal Feed (OK-Net EcoFeed). Since 2018, strategies and possibilities have been collected and tested to realise a completely regional and organic feeding of pigs and poultry. The project combines feed cultivation and processing and animal production.

Every tool is described by metadata that helps users to find the most relevant tool addressing their needs. Metadata include the problem the tool addresses, the solution(s) it offers, a description of the tool, the theme(s) covered, the language(s) it can be found in, the year it was released, the country of origin and information about the issuing organisation. New themes will be added soon.

Growing range of topics

Topics covered on the platform cover a wide range of knowledge about organic farming, from arable crops, soil quality and fertility, nutrient management, pest and disease control to pigs, broilers, laying hens, feeding and ration planning and the handling of harvested feed. This facilitates access to practical tools developed within the framework of research projects with farmers playing a central role in building the Organic Farm Knowledge platform from its roots.
Several EU research projects and CORE Organic projects (coordination of European transnational research on organic food and farming systems) have joined the Organic Farm Knowledge platform and intend to use it to disseminate their practice-oriented results. This includes the projects LIVESEED, RELACS, ReMIX and all recent CORE Organic projects. One aim is that the platform can also be searched according to the project.

The knowledge platform is open to further collaborations which enable the continued growth of knowledge provision by increasing its range of available instruments and topics. Several European projects have expressed interest or are already committed to supplying tools on themes such as seeds, plant breeding, fruit production, inputs used for organic plant protection, animal production and fertilisation. These tools are expected to be available soon.

Website: Online-Plattform Organic Farm Knowledge

Key questions – toolbox

1. How can I find a tool?
For each of the themes of Organic Farm Knowledge, a dedicated theme page has been set up where the tools related to a theme can be found along with some background information. An extensive search function is also available, and tools can be browsed by theme, keyword, tool type, country of origin, organisation and language.

2. How are the themes divided?
Currently, there are the following three subject areas in which the theme pages can be found:

  • Animal husbandry: Animal health, pigs, broilers, laying hens, feeding and ration planning, processing and handling of harvested feed
  • Crop production: arable farming, soil quality and fertility, nutrient management, pest and disease control, weed control, cropping systems
  • Seeds and breeding: seed production, plant breeding and variety trials, seed quality, the market and regulation of organic seeds

3. Are the tools available in all languages?
While not all tools are available in all languages, their summaries and key recommendations are translated – via automatic translation – into Bulgarian, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Serbian, Spanish and Swedish.

4. How can I inform myself about new tools?
All tools are announced on the Organic Farm Knowledge platform with a news item. The latest tools are also highlighted in a separate box on the homepage and on the relevant theme pages. The tools are also promoted via social media: Facebook https://www.facebook.com/organicfarmknowledge, and Twitter https://twitter.com/farm_knowledge.

5. Can I rate and comment on a tool or engage in discussions?
The Organic Farm Knowledge Platform offers the opportunity to rate tools.
For discussions, we offer the Organic Farm Knowledge Facebook page and Twitter account, where each tool is posted and can be commented upon. Also, the discussion function, DISQUS on the platform itself, can be used.

This news was published in February 2020 on ok-net-ecofeed.eu.

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