EU-FarmBook is online and ready to accept contributions

The EU-FarmBook team launched the platform live from Latvia – Laurens van der Cruyssen (OSMOS),
Inês Assunção (CONSULAI), Pieter Spanoghe (UGent), Anita Dzelme (EUFRAS), Inge De Bo (UGent)

On 8 February, the EU-FarmBook team announced the start of EU-FarmBook, an open access platform for agricultural knowledge and information.
The exclusive online event for contributors was streamed live on YouTube. The project management informed the agricultural community about the platform and the technical team explained how project coordinators and partners from H2020 and Horizon Europe projects can upload materials.

Inês Assunção and Laurens Van Der Cruyssen, both members of the EU-FarmBook consortium, moderated the event, which was broadcast live from the EUFRAS studio in Latvia. Online participants had the opportunity to ask questions during the event, which were answered by the experts in a Q&A session at the end.

“This is the starting point – let´s embrace the journey together”

Pieter Spanoghe, project coordinator, and Inge de Bo, scientific coordinator from Ghent University, informed about the current status of the project. Pieter Spanoghe started with a countdown: “3- 2-1 – yes, the EU-FarmBook platform is now live”. As project coordinator with 29 partners, he is proud to have been part of this this important milestone. “Today is the moment when scientists, academics and forestry and agriculture experts shake hands. They want to bring farmers solutions to the problems that they need to become more sustainable,” said Spanoghe. For him, the transfer of innovation and knowledge into the agricultural practice is fundamental to achieving the goals for the future of agriculture in Europe.

Inge de Bo explained that the main objective of the event is to reach contributors and experts, who upload project results and practice-orientated materials from EU-funded projects. These include project coordinators from Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe and EIP-AGRI operational groups, who have knowledge for practical use. The uploaded information is free of costs for the users and the contributors will benefit. Inge de Bo explained: “The platform is funded and supported by the European Commission, and we will make sure, that your project results get the visibility and findability that they deserve.” The uploading process is easy and, of course, authors´ rights are respected. Contributor agreements are available on the platform in simple and understandable language.

Cooperation instead of competition

“We want you to join us,” said Inge de Bo addressing already existing platforms, knowledge hubs and databases. “Alone you can go fast, but together we can go far and we will be stronger in collecting knowledge and reach it to the AKIS actors through one place – the EU-FarmBook platform.” We are not competing with other platforms, said Pieter Spanoghe. What makes us unique is that we focus on practical materials for agriculture and forestry. The stored knowledge can be trusted and is useful for the daily operations of farmers and foresters.

Farmbuddy – the EU-FarmBook search engine

If you were to compare EU-FarmBook to a library, it would still have empty shelves. The search engine, called Farmbuddy, learns and improves its artificial intelligence (AI) skills from a wide variety of content that matches the interests of farmers, foresters and other rural actors.

“Our goal is to have all your outputs and your research in one place and to share it with all farmers, foresters and rural actors,” said Pieter Spanoghe. Metadata, which describe knowledge objects and includes additional information provided by the contributors, is key to speeding up the search engine and optimizing search results.

The European Forest Institute shares its project data on EU-FarmBook

Eduard Mauri from the Mediterranean Facility in the European Forest Institute (EFI) coordinates the ResAlliance project that engages with farmers and foresters to share practical knowledge on how to increase landscape resilience in the Mediterranean. In EU-FarmBook Mauri found a place, where factsheets and summery abstracts of knowledge for practitioners and authorities matched the themes of his thematic network. He appreciates that EU-FarmBook respects the FAIR Data Principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). That it provides long-term hosting, multilingual access and is building up a community of users in agriculture and forestry. EU-FarmBook also avoids maintenance costs after the end of the project. Eduard Mauri said: “All our practical material (from ResAlliance Project) will be stored in EU-FarmBook from the beginning and will be accessible from there.”

Eduard Mauri (European Forest Institute), Project Coordinator of
ResAlliance shares data on EU-FarmBook

“The uploading process is user friendly”

Sabien Pollet, the project coordinator of the SmartProtect project, a thematic network on IPM (Integrated Pest Management) technologies for indoor and outdoor vegetables, has already gone through the uploading process. Pollet shared the information generated for innovative crop protection. “Farmers and advisors often tell us, that it is not always easy to find the right information, as it is usually spread across different sources,” said Pollet. She stressed that it could make a difference if everyone started uploading to EU-FarmBook now that it is available. Pollet has had information on smart IP technologies translated by native speakers into twelve languages and uploaded this knowledge to EU-Farmbook. “EU-FarmBook is a user-friendly tool and after creating an account, you can easily upload your technical information,” said Pollet.

Sabien Pollet, Project Coordinator of SmartProtect,
already contributed to EU-FarmBook

Technical Features

The technical team is working on the connecting of EU-FarmBook with existing large knowledge databases. It is working together with several projects, sectoral ambassadors and EU Member States. The type of upload depends on two different options. Materials that are already structured in a database can be uploaded to EU-FarmBook via API (Application Programming Interfaces) connection or integration. If the material is not yet in a database, it can be uploaded manually. If there are any problems, users can contact the technical team via the contact form.

Features like the use of AI, a more personalized search assistant, multi-language support and data analytics for contributors will be developed in the future.

Watch the full video presentation of Louis Powell, Software Engineer at Maastricht University (EU-FarmBook Consortium Partner), where the platform and its current and future features were showcased.

EU-FarmBook maximizes the impact of EU-funded R&I projects

Natalia Brzezina, European Commission (EC) Research Programme Officer (DG AGRI), attended the event and underlined the importance of EU-FarmBook: “European farmers, foresters and rural communities provide us with food and biomass, and at the same time they face many challenges resulting from environmental, climatic and socioeconomic changes and we must help them to tackle these challenges”. This can only be done providing them with innovative solutions they need for their daily work. The EU has increased the budget for agricultural research in the Horizon 2020 and Europe programmes and EIP AGRI operational groups across Europe. Multi-actor projects are constantly delivering new knowledge and innovative solutions for farmers, foresters and rural communities that are ready to use. Unfortunately, this knowledge often disappears shortly after the end of the projects, said Brezina. The EC research officer believes, that EU-FarmBook can preserve the knowledge and innovation generated by EU-funded R&I projects in the long term and bring it together in one user-friendly platform, helping farmers, foresters, and rural communities in Europe to get the right knowledge in a ready-to-use form. She added, that all AKIS actors will benefit from the platform and that, if successful, the Commission will explore options to sustain EU-FarmBook in the long term. Therefore, she emphasized, that it is very important that funded projects contribute with practice-orientated materials to the platform. The success of the platform is highly dependent on the contributions and Natalia Brzezina invited and encouraged project managers to submit and contribute. “Of course, contributions form projects beyond Horizon and the CAP-funded operational groups are also very welcome. All relevant practice-oriented contributions that can help farmers, foresters and rural communities to improve their practices, the sustainability and their resilience are super welcome”.

EC Programme Officer Natalia Brzezina invites
EU-Funded R&I projects to contribute to EU-FarmBook

EU-FarmBook ambassadors connect and support across the Member States

Anita Dzelme from the European Forum for Agricultural and Rural Advisory Services (EUFRAS) in Latvia, a member of the EU-FarmBook consortium, is not only the host of the event, but also one of several ambassadors of the EU-FarmBook team. The ambassadors are there to help contributors decide which materials are suitable for the platform, Dzelme explained. A map of all Ambassadors in Europe with contact details can be found on the EU-FarmBook project website. “We are happy to help”. All kinds and types of content and materials are welcome to be uploaded. “Some of us are more visual, some of us prefer text or audio files and we all have different ways of understanding information”, said Anita Dzelme about the types of materials.

Anita Dzelme from Latvia is one of several Ambassadors in Europe

At the moment the platform´s “shelves” are empty, but all users and visitors are welcome, said scientific coordinator Inge de Bo. The platform is constantly evolving. The user experience will get better and better and in 2025 users will find the best content match for what they are looking for. Defining practice-orientated materials is not easy. In the end, the user will decide. She said that it might help to ask yourself, what information is relevant to the practitioner beyond the reporting to the EC. “If I can extract small pieces and put them in an attractive format, such as videos or podcasts, then I think this is a very good job.” Pieter Spanoghe agreed and said: “I am looking forward to seeing what the users will like, click on and discuss, as this will help us to understand what the needs of the farmers and foresters are and show us what practice-oriented materials really are”.

Moderators Inês Assunção and Laurens Van Der Cruyssen, concluded the online event with service information and an outlook on future events. The platform is constantly evolving. Further user research will be carried out. Laurens Van Der Cruyssen, social designer in the EU-FarmBook consortium said: “We try to get a good view of the needs of our users as much as possible”. Therefore, Inês Assunção, EU-FarmBook communication consultant, invited interested viewers to subscribe to the newsletter , where people can choose the level of engagement with the project such as participation in webinars or workshops. Training materials are available on the EU-FarmBook platform and website, and training sessions will be offered in May 2024. In 2025, EU-FarmBook will present the platform to the practitioners. Meanwhile the platform will be filled with information and materials from the contributors.

Assunção and Van Der Cruyssen concluded by thanking everyone involved and the Latvian hosts. They closed the event with the key message: Start uploading your contributions!

Moderators Inês Assunção and Laurens Van Der Cruyssen thanked the Latvian hosts
from EUFRAS and closed the event with the key message: Start uploading your contributions!

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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