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Organic Knowledge Network on Monogastric Animal Feed

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - OK-Net EcoFeed (Organic Knowledge Network on Monogastric Animal Feed)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2019-06-30

A key objective of organic farming is the closing of nutrient cycles, but it is difficult to achieve. To a large extent, feed and livestock production, in particular of pigs and poultry, are concentrated in different regions, and animal feed (especially proteins) has to be imported from regions far away. In addition, organic farmers have difficulties in sourcing protein feed of organic quality. The lack of organic and regional feed threatens both the sustainability of organic agriculture as well as consumers’ confidence.

OK-Net EcoFeed therefore aims at helping organic pig and poultry farmers in achieving the goal of 100% use of organic and regional feed. In order to achieve this OK-Net EcoFeed has 4 specific objectives:
• The project will synthesize the scientific and practical knowledge available about organic and regional feed production for monogastrics;
• It will create a European network of innovation groups to facilitate exchange and co-creation of knowledge among farmers, business actors, researchers and advisors;
• It will collect end-user material and develop new tools adapted to the needs of farmers and business actors. All material and tools will be summarised in the EIP common format for practice abstracts.
• Finally, the project will extend the platform Organic Farm Knowledge (https://organic-farmknowledge.org/) to include the topic of monogastric animal feed.

The project builds on the experiences of OK-Net Arable, which was a thematic network addressing organic arable cropping. OK-Net EcoFeed is a logic continuation of OK-Net Arable, making the bridge between feed cultivation over feed processing to animal production. OK-Net EcoFeed is coordinated by IFOAM EU and consists of 11 partners and 8 linked third parties from 11 countries.
A network of 12 Innovation Groups in 8 countries, has been established. A description of each group was gathered to understand the local conditions, including challenges and solutions, under which each group operates. The groups, which include farmers and other industry partners, have had three official group meetings, including a Science Bazaar with invited researchers, where problems, existing knowledge and relevant potential solutions have been discussed.

Literature on how to feed monogastrics with 100% organic and regionally produced feed was collected in a database, while the 12 Innovation Groups identified knowledge gaps. These knowledge gaps were matched against the literature available in the database, and additional expertise from research. This exercise served to write a knowledge synthesis on feeding organic monogastrics.

Each Innovation Group has identified one or more potential solutions for trialling. In total, 14 trials will be set up. Additionally, further relevant knowledge from the database has been identified for translation by all groups. In total, 9 tools will be translated with 3 tools being translated in 2 languages.

Tools and end-user material that corresponded best to the needs identified by the Innovation Groups were selected in order to be described and presented on Organic Farm Knowledge. One video, on the use of silage in pigs, has been produced and draft versions of 6 fact sheets (practice abstracts) are ready. Finally, the creation of a ration-planning tool has started.

The Organic Farm Knowledge platform went online in December 2018. The platform is a new version of the OK-Net platform that was built by OK-Net Arable. The new name of the platform should allow to upload end-user material from other thematic networks and multi-actor projects beyond OK-Net Arable and OK-Net EcoFeed to cover all practical end-user material relevant for organic farming.
"Members of the Innovation Groups are demonstrating a proactive and dynamic approach to their farming systems and are continually observing and experimenting in response to their environment as well as external factors. This has resulted in a number of specific ideas for practical testing. There are likely to be numerous other ‘innovations’ by the groups that were not identified. There is certainly scope for further innovation, particularly in terms of increased interactions between farmer knowledge and scientific research results, farmer-to-farmer collaborations such as arrangements between arable and livestock producers, exchanges between experienced farmers and new entrants that build on different expertise. A range of specialist equipment is being used by the groups; information could be shared between groups with the view to identifying appropriate equipment for different contexts and highlighting potential adaptations that could be made.

In order to facilitate exchanges among farmers, farm advisers and scientists, OK-Net EcoFeed has built a new version of the online knowledge platform ""Organic Farm Knowledge"", where farmers can find practical organic solutions, and at the same time discuss how they work on the field."
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