The project aims to develop a farmer-centred assessment and training system to better connect the EU's new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) requirements with proven and innovative good eco-management practices, in favour of improved implementation of the various measures, increased uptake of support, improved efficiency in production and protection of the natural environment.
The proposal is focusing on knowledge transfer and vocational training related to the current strategic lines of the EU such as Green Deal, Farm to Fork, Organic Action Plan in connection with the new CAP. The main objective is that farmers better understand conditionality and eco-scheme regulations and their linked undertakings, they choose (supported by a farm assessment tool) and participate in the certain schemes with more responsibility and awareness, implementing the measures more consciously and effectively.
Ensuring a wide range of knowledge transfer programmes - technical and administrative support services, practice oriented trainings, demonstration farm events - is one of the most critical conditions for the successful implementation and operation of the new CAP, in order to meet the changing management requirements and efficiently absorb the available funds, in the implementation of which applied research connected with advisors play a key role. The efficiency and competitiveness of agricultural production can be enhanced in line with higher environmental and agro-ecological standards, as can be seen for example in the use of precision farming, agronomic (e.g. correct crop rotation), agro-ecological (e.g. biodiversity enhancement) and crop management (e.g. intercropping) elements.
For farmers to be able to apply these solutions in a professional, effective, successful and sustainable way, it is essential that they understand how they work, the production (and not only support) benefits they can expect from their application, and that they are genuinely convinced to introduce and maintain these methods in production practice. Only then can meaningful progress be achieved, whether it is more efficient use of pesticides, higher yields or less environmental impact. The key to a change in farmers' attitudes is the right transfer of practical knowledge, which requires advisory support, demonstration farms events and forums that bring together actors to transfer knowledge.
During the lifetime of the project, first we will develop a structured knowledge base which contains the requirements of direct payment and rural development support schemes, as well as a repository of good eco-farming practices, so that the represented information can be easily searched and used in combination with each other. In parallel, we will create an eco-farm assessment tool, with a practical focus to support the needs of our learning programme, as well as to monitor the progress of participants at several stages. Not only the farm profile will be assessed, but also the personal properties of the farmer (attitude, skills, etc). Based on the previous steps, the training methodology and content in several OER modules will be developed and tested during 2 pilot phases, by the facilitation of the extension network. The online information management platform, combining various open source tools and applications - will serve and support all functional needs of the project, to make the knowledge base fully searchable from both the regulations and good practices side, to provide an interface for the assessment tool, as well as a learning management system. The previous outputs will be summarized and published in two concise handbooks, covering relevant methodological guidelines, first one for "early adopters", so that the results can be readily exploited right at the introductory phase of the new CAP, and the second one by concluding all project experiences.