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Peer-to-Peer Learning: Accessing Innovation through Demonstration

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PLAID (Peer-to-Peer Learning: Accessing Innovation through Demonstration)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2017-12-31

PLAID has been designed to increase the innovativeness and sustainability of European agriculture by enabling a wider range of farmers and farm employees to access high quality peer-to-peer learning opportunities on commercial farms.

The eight specific objectives of PLAID are:
1. Practice-based conceptual development: the PLAID conceptual framework will combine innovation theory with recent social learning, social psychology and social capital theories. This framework will be developed through multi-stakeholder interaction, and empirical assessment (WP2).
2. Produce a geo-referenced inventory and clickable map: PLAID will produce a comprehensive database and search tool that usefully classifies and locates the numerous types of farms and supporting organisations engaged in demonstration activities on farms in the EU 28, Norway and Switzerland (WP3).
3. Identify best practices in on-farm demonstration: PLAID will identify the key elements of efficient and effective demonstration techniques, producing sets of best practices for different types of demonstration. This will lead to guidelines, indicators and decision-support tools (WP3-6).
4. Assess governance and funding: PLAID will assess the utility of the governance and funding mechanisms and develop policy recommendations to support effective demonstration (WP3, WP5, WP6).
5. Develop and promote innovations in demonstration: PLAID will identify, assess and publicise the innovative approaches to demonstration currently underway in Europe (WP3-7). PLAID will also further develop the potential of ‘virtual (on-line) demonstration’ with commercial farmers (WP4).
6. Enable access to demonstration: PLAID will assess the equity of access to demonstration, in relation to gender, age, location, employment status and farming type, leading to recommendations, evaluation indicators and targeted decision-support tools (WP3-6).
7. Add Value to EIP Agri: PLAID will involve EIP Focus Groups, Operational Groups (WP7) and produce at least 30 practice abstracts.
8. Initiate a community of practice: PLAID activities will build the foundations for a more integrated ‘demonstration’ community in European Farming Systems (WP7) and provide a solid foundation for RUR-12-2017: “Networking European farms to boost thematic knowledge exchanges and close the innovation gap” (H2020 NEFERTITI).
PLAID has established a positive, productive working relationship with AgriDemoF2F. The two projects have agreed to produce a joint inventory and searchable database of on-farm demonstration in Europe (under the shared 'FarmDemo' brand), as well as joint policy recommendations. The first two consortium meetings were held jointly, and collaborative teams formed to develop the inventory database.

PLAID has completed its initial conceptual framework. The conceptual framework is based on an initial analysis of the main elements of successful demonstration and peer-to-peer learning techniques. The conceptual framework includes a review of the history of demonstration farms, and a draft typology, which outlines a continuum between demonstrations oriented towards enabling farmers to produce more efficiently (economic sustainability), and those oriented towards producing public goods (environmental and social sustainability) (see Figure 1). It also distinguishes between demonstrations that are predominantly institutionally led versus those which are predominantly farmer-led. The conceptual framework summarises the theories associated with influencing behaviour change, defines ‘sustainability’ for the purposes of PLAID, and examines how innovations promoted at the niche level can be transferred to promote widespread change.

PLAID (in collaboration with AgriDemoF2F) has completed the inventories of demonstration farms in 27 countries. Some 1110 entries have been made to the database (see Figure 2), about 70% of which are farmers. Other participants include public and private advisory services, NGOs, charities, universities and research institutes. The on-line search tool is under development.

PLAID has reviewed current on-line demonstration activities, identifying over 500 audio-video materials published on webpages, YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, etc. Consortium members analysed existing practices to identify potential barriers and opportunities for use of on-line audio-visual material on commercial farming. PLAID has developed a draft protocol for case study research, implemented in pilot studies. The methodology distinguishes six ‘aspects’ of demonstrations that will be analysed: 1) the context; 2) the set-up (who is involved, how is it organised); 3) the demo event (what happens at the actual demo); 4) learning (what do visiting farmers learn from the demo); 5) anchoring (actual application of what is demonstrated by visiting farmers); and 6) scaling (wider use of what is demonstrated, also by farmers that did not visit the demo). 24 case studies have been selected for empirical research.

PLAID has produced: 5 blog posts, twitter accounts with 265 followers, 27 short videos (total 7000 views), 13 practice abstracts; and participated in 7 national events.
In the first reporting period (duration 12 months) PLAID has set the foundations for delivering important advances and impact.

PLAID conceptual framework: Advances the state of the art by undertaking the first analysis of the factors under-lying successful demonstration, and integrating these with academic theories of behaviour change. The conceptual framework also involved the first historical analysis of demonstration farming, showing the evolution over several hundred years. This conceptual framework underpins the inventory and case study research, which will yield a set of best practical approaches for demonstration projects and programmes that are effective in increasing application of innovative entrepreneurial practices and scientific knowledge

The FarmDemo inventory (conducted jointly with AgriDemoF2F), is the first of its kind. It will provide an important networking resource for on-farm demonstration across Europe, to be utilised in the H2020 NEFERTITI project. Findings from inventory data analysis will identify the sectors, themes and topics on which demonstration is (and is not) available in different European regions. These findings will enable development of targeted recommendations for Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System (AKIS) governance and policies on how to support effective demonstration activities.

Virtual Demonstration: PLAID has established a foundation for identifying best practice in on-line demonstration, enabling farmers to promote their own demonstrations independently.

Further advances are anticipated in the second reporting period, when PLAID partners will analyse the inventory data, develop tools for enabling farmers to undertake virtual demonstration, assess case studies of demonstration to evaluate best practice, and develop decision-support tools and policy recommendations, to enable high-impact future demonstrations. Activities will improve understanding of effective demonstration approaches, project types and programmes, and of the increased potential for knowledge exchange offered by farmer-to-farmer learning.
Initial Inventory Map
Draft Typology