Europe-wide network aims to showcase on-farm innovation

Researchers at the James Hutton Institute and collaborators from across Europe have announced the start of a project which aims to increase farmers’ access to demonstrations of best practices and innovation in agriculture.

Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, the PLAID initiative (Peer-to-peer Learning: Accessing Innovation through Demonstration) will develop a searchable, geo-referenced inventory and map covering all 28 EU member states, plus Switzerland, Norway and Serbia.

Project coordinator Dr Lee-Ann Sutherland, based at the James Hutton Institute’s Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences group in Aberdeen, said the initiative aims to assess demonstrations from when they are first commissioned through to evaluating outcomes, identifying good practice and options for increasing impact.

“PLAID will work with farmers to develop on-line ‘virtual’ demonstration, enabling farmers to communicate with peers who may not be able to attend events in person. Although participating in demonstration activities is a common way for farmers to learn, very little is known about the ‘best’ way to organise these events. ’Other farmers’ continue to be farmers’ most important source of new information, and there are a lot of exciting new innovations and ways of working being developed on farms across Europe.

“PLAID is about enabling farmers to demonstrate innovations to their peers, and to identify opportunities to learn from other farmers across Europe. Outputs of the project will be available online, ranging from YouTube videos to decision-support tools and best practice recommendations. We hope these will be useful for farmers, advisors, commercial companies, charities, educators, policy makers and researchers across Europe, enabling them to support and develop on-farm demonstration activities.”


Rickard Eksten - James Hutton Institute