ENAJ organizes press trip on innovations for wineries and farms

Photo credit: Friederike Krick

Agricultural journalists are actors in the ecosystem of agricultural innovation communication and therefore important for EU-FarmBook.

EU-FarmBook supports the activities of the European Network of Agricultural Journalists (ENAJ), because journalists play an important role in the most relevant target groups of EU-FarmBook, such as farmers, advisors and decision makers. ENAJ is the umbrella organization of the national guilds of 20 EU member states and two EFTA countries. The main activities of ENAJ is to organize workshops and press trips for their members. From July 6-8, ENAJ and the German Guild of Agricultural Journalists VDAJ invited a group of 19 agricultural journalists from 12 countries to the Palatinate, a region of wine and vegetable production in Western Germany. They visited a research institute, wineries and farms to learn about innovations for sustainable farming.

Wine makers and vegetable growers in the Palatinate have to deal with a lot of challenges: They are facing droughts because of climate change, their production is affected by pests, they need to reduce plant protection to fulfill EU legislation and they have to compete in global markets. Innovations are needed to produce in a sustainable way and to be successful. In viticulture new cultivars – so called PIWIS – are innovative, because they can help to reduce plant protection.

Reducing plant protection by new cultivars

Prof. Dr. Reinhard Töpfer, Director of the JKI Federal research Center for Cultivated Plants Geilweilerhof in Siebeldingen, informed the journalists about PIWIS. These cultivars are resistant against widespread diseases like powdery Mildew. “PIWIS are an important option for the new EU Framework conditions”, he said. Nevertheless he pointed out, that viticulture without plant protection is not possible.

Prof. Dr. Reinhard Töpfer, Director of JKI Federal research Center for Cultivated Plants Geilweilerhof in Siebeldingen, talked about the PIWI research activities. Photo: KS

Christoph Siebert from the Siebert & Schenk winery in Grünstadt is also convinced, that wine grapes need plant protection. He and his brother Johannes cultivate 40 hectares and they are just converting their production to organic viticulture. To protect the wine grapes from pests and diseases they are only allowed to use alternatives to chemical treatments like sulfur, copper and baking powder. “This year we have difficult conditions and we need to treat the grapes nearly weekly with baking powder”, said Christoph Siebert. He intends to plant PIWIS to reduce plant protection. “PIWIS will need less treatments and will therefore reduce our costs”, he said.

Vineyard Cloud: Digital tool improves management

The two brothers also implemented the digital management tool Vineyard Cloud to support the conversion to organic production. The GIS based process management is available for Android and iOS is particularly strong in the areas of route optimization, in networking with intelligent spraying systems and in fertilizers regulation documentation. Siebert works closely with Fabian Bartmann, the specialist for Vineyard Cloud of Raiffeisen Waren-Zentrale Rhein-Main eG (RWZ). RWZ holds a stake in the company Vineyard Cloud GmbH through its subsidiary Raiffeisen Ventures GmbH and has played a key role in the development of the software, which is consistently tailored to the requirements of viticulture. “In many discussions with our customers, we asked what a useful digital solution for a winery must be able to do,” explains Fabian Bartmann. “We then passed on the formulated requirements to the software developers. Now it’s a matter of bringing the practical tool into the field.” RWZ recommends Vineyard Cloud for farms larger than about 15 hectares.

Fabian Bartmann, RWZ, explains the use of Vineyard Cloud. Photo: KS

Digital solutions can also help to protect biodiversity

Digitalization plays also an important role at the farm of Dominique Bellaire. He and his family are already the third generation to run the Schmiedhof in Neupotz, a farm of almost 200 hectares. The 4th generation is already in the starting blocks and would like to continue the business. For this reason, the Bellaires are setting up the business for the future. Risk diversification is the keyword here: not specialisation in one area, but the combination of dairy farming and direct marketing with diverse crops, the sustainable orientation of the farm (low-CO2 dairy farming, integrated crop protection) and consistent digitalization. “My objective is not to maximise production, but to stabilize it”, he said.

By using forecasting models (Xarvio), Dominik Bellaire moves away from a rigid treatment of the grain and only treats when infections occur. The information of a digital weather station allows him to treat even more accurately. As parts of the farm belong to the “red area” (red areas have a surplus of nitrogen in the soil and fertilizers must be reduced to protect the ground water), Dominik uses partially specific sowing and fertilizing (-20% N). He therefore uses fertilizer specifically in the good regions and saves fertilizer on the weak ones.

Thanks to digitalization, Dominik Bellaire is able to integrate protection zones for skylarks and other ground breeding species in larger fields (create lark windows during sowing and then do not carry out plant protection in these areas later). Other measures can be seen by anyone who looks at the fields: biodiversity stripes with wild herbs and flowers frame the fields of the Schmiedhof. “If these stripes are permanent they attract a lot of insects, which help to keep the crops healthy”, he said.

Dominique Bellaire proudly presents biodiversity strips dividing the fields. Photo: KS

FarmNet monitors biodiversity

The success of the biodiversity measures is monitored by the initiative FarmNet of the company BASF. The aim of FarmNet is to find out which measures are both effective in promoting biodiversity and practical to implement. The results of the ten years project show, that the number of skylarks raised by almost 40 % and there have been significant increases in the population of ground breeding species, wild herb species and insects. Dominique Bellaire also appreciates the exchange with other farmers in FarmNet, who try to innovate their farms. “To my opinion rigid adherence to a system is wrong”, he said. His measures show that sustainable practices can also be productive.

Lisa Bellocchi, President of ENAJ, thanks Christian Seelmann, Head of Technology Raiffeisen Waren-Zentrale Rhein-Main eG, for the support of the press tour. Photo: KS

Furthermore the journalists visited the fruit and vegetable farm Fehmel in Mutterstadt and the winery Hörner, Hainbachhof GbR in Hochstadt. They learned to know the farmers and their farms and they will tell the audience in their countries about new practices, which were successfully implemented in the Palatinate. This press tour was a good example for the activities of the European Network of European Agricultural Journalists ENAJ and how ENAJ and agricultural journalists support innovation transfer to agricultural practice. The press tour was supported by Raiffeisen Waren-Zentrale Rhein-Main eG RWZ and BASF.


Study: Information needs, preferences, and information behaviour of European farmers, foresters and advisors

The problem-solving strategies of primary sector practitioners rely largely on online resources. This is a main result of a study conducted by researchers of the EU EUREKA project in 2020.

In an increasingly digital working environment, farmers, foresters, and agricultural advisors are relying more and more on online searches for professional questions. This is one of the main findings of a survey, which was carried out by researchers from the EU´s EUREKA project in 2020. While peer-to-peer information and printed materials still play an important role in the information process, web searches are used by 83 % of the interviewed persons. The survey also showed that video and image-based online information plays an important role in the information process. The aim of the survey was to gain insights into the information behaviour of EU farmers, foresters, and advisors. From April to June 2020, 40 people from 20 EU countries were interviewed (15 farmers, 13 advisors to farmers, 7 foresters, and 5 advisors to foresters). 58 % of the practitioners said, that they were looking for video-based online information. This reflects the practical and ´do it yourself” attitude of farmers: Videos are needed to learn about technologies and farming practices. Advisors need videos as an information tool.

45 % of the practitioners said that they search for pictures, images, and photos. Images are often searched for when quick information is needed. 70 % of the interviewed farmers, foresters, and advisors also use smartphone applications for professional purposes. For example, apps for precision farming, precision irrigation, and weather forecasting. Social media is a main source of information for 65 % of the interviewed practitioners. They use social media to gather information on specific topics and as a virtual space for exchange.

The results of the Horizon 2020-funded EUREKA project provides an important contribution to the development of the agricultural and forestry knowledge platform EU-FarmBook. A better understanding of the information behaviour of European farmers, foresters and advisors helps to adapt the platform to the needs of the target groups. Szabolcs VÁGÓ from the research team says: “The strong need for an easy-to-use information system that provides reliable and useful information for farmers, foresters and advisors became apparent during the research.”

Based on the results of the study, conclusions can be drawn for the development of future information offerings, for the exchange and dissemination of knowledge and innovation, especially with the background that practitioners have little time for long research in their busy daily work. The peer-reviewed study entitled “Information behaviour of farmers, foresters, and advisors in the context of digitalisation in the EU” has been published in the journal “Studies in Agricultural Economics” in 2023 and is available here.

Dr. VÁGÓ Szabolcs
Institute of Agricultural Economics Nonprofit Kft. (AKI);
Publisher Headquarters: Zsil utca 3-5, 1093-Budapest, Hungary

Gábor KIRÁLY, Szabolcs VÁGÓ, Emily BULL, Laurens van der CRUYSSEN, Tyler ARBOUR, Pieter SPANOGHE and Lisa van DIJK

Studies in Agricultural Economics

The framework of this study is provided by a Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Action project.


Consortium of EU-FarmBook meets in Tallin: Platform will soon be ready for uploads

EU-FarmBook will soon be ready for uploads, resolved the project consortium during their June meeting in Tallinn. All efforts will be concentrated on informing potential contributors. The Centre of Estonian Rural Research and Knowledge (METK), who hosted the meeting, was the first Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System (AKIS) in Europe to announce their commitment.

Minister Madis Kallas: EU-FarmBook supports green transition

Madis Kallas, Minister of Regional Affairs, welcomed personally the EU-FarmBook consortium in the Ministry of Rural Affairs in the center of Tallin. “European green transition can give rise to many questions, answers to which may differ by country. EU-FarmBook could help bring together the output of scientific research and offer innovative solutions to producers. They would be able to search the database for practical information on how to better cope with the challenges raised by the green transition”, he said, and underlined: “I am proud to say that Estonia is one of the pioneers in transitioning agricultural and rural sectors to digital governance”.

Madis Kallas, Minister of Regional Affairs welcomed Pieter Spanoghe and the EU-FarmBook Consortium in Estonia

Estonia is a role model

Pieter Spanoghe from Ghent University, General Coordinator of EU-FarmBook, thanked the minister for the hospitality on behalf of the consortium and pointed out: “We are looking towards the contribution of Estonia, and we hope, that many other countries will follow”. Estonia’s plan is to link the national knowledge and networking platforms with EU-FarmBook.

Helena Pärenson from the R&D Department of the Ministry of Rural Affairs  presented the CAP support measures in Estonia

The Baltic state is an early adopter on digitalisation in agriculture: The first digital platform to share agricultural knowledge went online in 2001 ( and in 2007 a national rural network platform followed (

Konstantin Mihhejev, Hanna Tamsalu and Pille Koorberg from the Centre of Estonian Rural Research and Knowledge (METK) and members of the EU-FarmBook Consortium explained the AKIS environment in Estonia

Currently, METK is working on elaborating a new technical online platform to bring all relevant information for farmers, foresters, and other rural actors under one umbrella. “If all EU member states would support the new platform in the same way as Estonia, the platform would soon reach its goal to be the point of reference for farmers, foresters, and advisors”, Pieter Spanoghe resumed.

Contributors should contact EU-FarmBook Coordinator

The uploading needs some preparation: Details on the information, the so-called knowledge objects, and the publication rights have to be verified in advance. The Ghent University coordination team is preparing a form with all the needed information and the details will be communicated by the communication channels of EU-FarmBook soon. The project coordinator of EU-FarmBook will also provide this information upon request. Please contact:

  • Pieter Spanoghe:

 “There is so much expertise of AKIS in Europe, please share it on EU-FarmBook and make it accessible to the practitioners”, emphasized Pieter Spanoghe. The goal of EU-FarmBook is to support farmers and foresters in tackling numerous challenges such as climate change and the transformation of agriculture and forestry.


The road to sustainability in agriculture 2023

More than 230 participants and 800 online viewers joined the Sustainability Conference of the EU-FarmBook partner CEJA, the European Council for Young Farmers in Brussels, Belgium to discuss the road to sustainability in agriculture.

In May, more than 230 participants and 800 online viewers followed the invitation of the European Council for Young Farmers (CEJA) to discuss the road to sustainability in agriculture in Brussels, Belgium. CEJA, as the representative of young farmers and partner of the EU-FarmBook project, brought together young farmers, stakeholders and decision-makers to discuss how to create sustainable agriculture for the future.

Diana Lenzi, former President of CEJA (2021 – 2023), welcomed Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal of the European Commission. He emphasized the importance of hearing the ideas of young farmers to create a sustainable future. In his speech he said: “The European Green Deal is actually only possible because young people, across the European Union, went into the streets and demanded a future.” The Conference was a great moment to state and strength the fact that young farmers want to be part of the debate also contribute to the solutions, said Diana Lenzi, former President of CEJA (2021 – 2023)

During the conference, young farmers presented stories from the field about topics included how to enable sustainability at farm level, the importance of soils for sustainability, animal welfare, smart farming and the challenges of the generational renewal.

In addition to the panels, there were also information stands where visitors could exchange ideas and network. Representatives of the EU-FarmBook Project gave information about the soon to be launched online platform, which will provide relevant information for farmers, foresters, and other rural actors and to support the objectives of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy of the EU policy agenda. They took the opportunity not only to inform but also to listen. They were particularly interested in the expectations of young farmers and how the platform could serve them best. “It is important that we from EU-FarmBook support farmers on their road to sustainability by giving them the online platform that we are developing and that gives them the floor to exchange their best practices, all their challenges and solutions”, said Scientific Coordinator of EU-FarmBook Inge De Bo from Ghent University.

Interview with Inge De Bo, Scientific Coordinator of EU-FarmBook
Interview with Diana Lenzi, former President of CEJA (2021 – 2023)

More information on the work of the CEJA can be found on its website, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram.


Subscribe to the EU-FarmBook Newsletter

EU-FarmBook, ATTRACTIS, modernAKIS, und PREMIERE, all funded by the European Unions´s Horizon Europe program have launched their joint newsletter in April 2023.

EU-FarmBook, ATTRACTIS, modernAKIS, and PREMIERE, funded by the European Unions´s Horizon Europe program have launched their joint newsletter in April 2023.

All four projects aim to empower the rural sector and its actors in the implementation of the Green Deal and the growing environmental, social and economic challenges. All projects believe that this empowerment should be based on the development of knowledge-based innovative solutions that can solve real practical problems faced by farmers or foresters. Networking and information sharing is a key element in achieving the common objectives. For a better exchange of information and an effective and optimized flow of knowledge, we would like to offer a joint newsletter.

It will provide comprehensive information on the highlights of the four EU projects.

Subscribe here.


EU-FarmBook Platform

On the 21st of February 2023, the EU-FarmBook project (Horizon Europe) will organise the EU-FarmBook Platform Day (at the Palace of the Belgian Academies) in Brussels, Belgium (Physical Meeting Only). This event aims to optimise the interoperability of digital knowledge sharing of the EU-FarmBook and other Horizon Europe projects, the CAP-network, and national networks, as well as to foster the digital community.

The EU-FarmBook is being developed to test a big idea: “Can all the Tangible Outputs of EU-Funded Research and Innovation Projects be brought together and organized in one User-Friendly Platform to help get Practical Knowledge into the hands of Farmers, Foresters, and Advisors across Europe who need it most?” The challenges to doing this are great:

The challenges to doing this are great:

  • Data (Base) Quality.
  • Compatibility Issues
  • Language Barriers
  • Intergenerational Considerations

However, EU-FarmBook believes that the future of agriculture and forestry innovation in Europe is digital, and requires a vastly increased and improved digital exchange of knowledge between EU regions and Member States, as well as between different agricultural stakeholders: Researchers, Policy-Makers, SMEs, Advisors, Farmers, and Foresters.

EU-FarmBook is the result of two EU-funded Horizon 2020 “sister” projects, EURAKNOS and EUREKA, which have brought together diverse partners to work together using a multi-actor approach. Please visit the websites and check out this short video to learn more.

The day will include plenary presentations on interoperability with the EU-FarmBook platform, 3 keynote speeches as well as parallel sessions.

Final Program

  • 08:30 – Registration of Participants
  • 09:15 – Introduction by Pieter Spanoghe (UGent, BE)
  • 09:30 – Ana Patricia Lopez (EC – DG AGRI) & Inge Van Oost (EC – DG AGRI)
  • 10:05 – Presentation on the EU-FarmBook by Hercules Panoutsopoulos (Agricultural University of Athens, GR), Louis Powell (Maastricht University, NL) and Christopher Brewster (Maastricht University, NL)
  • 10:45 – Questions
  • 10:55 – Coffee-Break
  • 11:25 – 3 Keynote Speeches: Testimonials of Existing Platforms
  • 12:05 – Guidelines for the Parallel Sessions
  • 12:15 – Lunch
  • 13:15 – Parallel Sessions
  • 14:45 – Coffee-Break
  • 15:15 – Parallel Sessions
  • 16:15 – Panel Discussion
  • 17:05 – Closing by Inge De Bo (UGent, BE) – Next Steps
  • 17:15 – End of the event

Parallel Sessions

  • The EU-FarmBook and Thematic Networks

What: Working towards a common template for uploading knowledge objects and representing Thematic Networks on the EU-FarmBook.
Target Audience: People with knowledge about the meta-data of their project, communication of their project and IT-infrastructure.

  • The EU-FarmBook and National Authorities for Knowledge Reservoirs

What: Establishing conditions for interoperability with national Knowledge Reservoirs
Target Audience: People with knowledge about the meta-data of their project, IT-infrastructure to set-up or maintain a national knowledge reservoir and IT-strategy

  • The EU-FarmBook Digital Community

What: Establishing conditions for setting up an online community for end-users on the EU-FarmBook
Target Audience: People with knowledge of legal issues with regard to online communities, with strategies for starting and managing online communities

  • The EU-FarmBook Conceptual Design

What: Re-using components from existing ontologies and vocabularies for a robust technical design of the EU-FarmBook
Target Audience: People with knowledge about agricultural ontologies and/or setting up such ontologies + people working in EU-funded, agriculture- and forestry-related Multi-Actor projects (bringing in domain expertise)

The event will take place at:
The Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts
Paleis der Academiën
Hertogsstraat 1
1000 Brussel

For any questions, please contact Laurens Van der Cruyssen


EU-FarmBook Online Workshop

EU-FarmBook is hosting an Online Workshop on January 26th (10:00 – 12:00 CET and 14:00 – 16:00 CET) to understand the State-of-Play of Online Knowledge Reservoirs at the National and Regional Levels (as part of the AKIS Strategic Approach in CAP Plans).

Many of the newly adopted CAP Strategic Plans for the 2023-2027 period include Online National/Regional “Knowledge Reservoirs for Practice” to support the implementation of the AKIS Strategic Approach presented in Section 8 (Modernisation: AKIS and digitalisation) of the CAP Plans.

The current status of these National/Regional Knowledge Reservoirs varies greatly, and it is understood that Member States are keen to share experiences and expectations regarding their development and management, especially since there is the possibility to save costs and avoid overlapping work and duplication of effort.

The Workshop will promote the potential of linking as many National/Regional “Knowledge Reservoirs for Practice” as possible with the EU-Level Knowledge Reservoir that is currently under development by the Horizon Europe-funded EU-FarmBook project.

The Online Event will aim to:

  • Receive Context from the European Commission about digital “Knowledge Reservoirs for Practice” as part of the AKIS Strategic Approach.
  • Exchange Experiences and Expectations with other Member States regarding the choice of themes and type of content, target audience, planning, technical development and management of digital “Knowledge Reservoirs for Practice”, possible collaborations.
  • Begin exploring potential connections to the EU-FarmBook.

See the Draft Program below:

Session 1
10:00 – Welcome and “Who is here?”
10:15 – Setting the scene
10:55 – EU-FarmBook – What is it?
11:10 – Preliminary Outcomes of the Survey on the State-of-Play of National/Regional Knowledge Reservoirs for Practice in the Member States
11:25 – Connecting to the EU FarmBook – How and What?
11:45 – EU-FarmBook Ambassadors – The Concept and “Who is Who?”
11:55 – Priority issues for discussion in Session 2

Session 2
14:00 – Welcome back and explanation of Session 2
14:15 – Knowledge Exchange on the State-of-Play and expectations from Digital Knowledge Reservoirs for Practice among Member States
15:15 – Presentation and Consolidation of the Knowledge Exchange Session
15:45 – Next Steps: EU-FarmBook Platform Day in Brussels on 21st February


EU-FarmBook kick off in Florence, Italy

In October 2022, in Florence, Italy, representatives of the 29 EU FarmBook partner organisations from 18 European countries met for the first face-to-face project meeting.

The first face-to-face EU-FarmBook project meeting of took place in Florence, Italy, in October 2022. 29 partner organizations from 18 European countries followed the invitation of the Italian Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, a member of the project consortium. The face-to-face meeting was preceded by several digital meetings in preparation of the official project launch in August 2022. The aim of the meeting was to discuss successful collaboration in a multi-actor project that brings together expertise from different disciplines.

Project Coordinator Pieter Spanoghe from Ghent University compared the collaboration to preparing a meal: “For having a good meal you need some ingredients. The project´s work packages bring together all the ingredients needed to prepare a nice meal.” If you combine the expertise and bring all the ingredients together, you get a very good product. To keep the common goal in mind, the participants received an EU-FarmBook apron. In the EU-FarmBook project, 29 EU partner organizations are working to build a Europe-wide digital platform that collects and shares agricultural and forestry knowledge. The idea is to bring together the tangible results of EU-funded research and innovation projects on a user-friendly platform and provide a useful and effective tool for farmers, foresters and advisors across Europe.

The platform is based on a co-creation approach and builds on the results of the previous EURAKNOS and EUREKA projects. As a coordinator, Ghent University is responsible for the overall management of the project. Ghent University is an internationally renowned, open, pluralistic and socially engaged university in Belgium.


EU-FarmBook is active on Twitter and LinkedIn

You can follow, connect and share the EU-FarmBook now also on LinkedIn and Twitter.

EU FarmBook is building a digital platform and is also committed digital communication through social media. Since September 2022 interested parties from agriculture, forestry and research can follow, connect and share news and information about the project on LinkedIn and Twitter.

You can keep up to date on the project on Twitter and on LinkedIn. We are looking forward to see you!

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the European Commission can be held responsible for them.
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