Considering the impact of COVID-19 on agricultural knowledge transfer

The delivery of agricultural knowledge transfer has altered dramatically during the past year due to the challenges of COVID-19 and social distancing.

CHAP’s Research Associate Dr Jemma Taylor and Strategic Marketing Manager Janine Heath both attended a workshop recently, that aimed to explore that very issue, and identify key learnings for the future.

The session was organised by membership organisation Agri-TechE as part of the development of an Innovate UK-funded digital solution – Farm-PEP (Farm Performance Enhancement Platform).

It opened with a presentation from Laura Bouvet, Knowledge & Innovation Facilitator at AHDB and Agri-TechE. Laura posed the question that with knowledge transfer being delivered mostly digital, what impact has this had on our industry? Are people more or less connected than before, and what will happen when lives are ‘post-covid’.

Among the speaker presentations, an overview of Farm-PEP was given by Project Lead Daniel Kindred from partner ADAS. It’s hoped that Farm-PEP will use outcomes from the workshop to help steer the project and inform a challenge statement, which will later help to develop the web platform solution.

Strategic Marketing Manager for CHAP, Janine Heath said: “Although online delivery has been fantastic throughout lock-down, I do believe that there’s something to be said for trial events and open days, especially within the arable sector.

“Standing in a field or glasshouse and seeing something with your own eyes is very powerful. I think there’s a strong appetite for both delivery mechanisms, which means from a marketing perspective, the bar is set high.

“It is important to continue to capture the wider audience gained from online delivery, while also feeding the need for in-person interaction. This will be a delicate balance not only from a budget perspective, but also a staffing perspective.

“As a marketing practitioner it was really interesting to contribute my thoughts to the workshop and involve myself in the discussion.”

Research Associate for CHAP, Dr Jemma Taylor said: “I found it an interesting workshop to consider some of the wider implications of COVID-19 on knowledge exchange, learning and actioning changes in results of these activities, within agriculture.

“There was a consensus that many good things have come out of the move to using virtual platforms, and some of these should be taken forward into how knowledge exchange activities could be offered in the future.

“It was discussed that a more blended approach to use the best of these outcomes such as an international reach, reduced travel time and knowledge absorption, with those that work better in person, such as networking and hands-on experiences would the best way forward.”

The workshop concluded with results from an online survey previously conducted by Farm-PEP.

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