IfA is part of a 7-million-euro project to boost farm advisory digital innovation

A 7 million euro project, funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme, was launched at the end of November in Dublin, Ireland.

FAIRshare, which is being led by Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority, brings together 22 partners from 15 countries across Europe. The five-year project revolves around the farm advisor community, with the aim to empower them to unlock the potential of digitisation for farmers and society.

The project will engage, enable and empower the independent farm advisory community, through sharing of tools, expertise and experiences. FAIRshare partners believe that by improving agricultural advisors’ understanding and use of digital tools and services, this will enable them to advocate a better uptake of digital technologies by European farmers.

Project Coordinator, Professor Tom Kelly from Teagasc said “Electronic data generation, analytics and communication technologies have the potential to enable more accurate, faster and better decision-making on farms. There is a danger that digitisation and future innovations will be hampered unless the rural advisory community is mobilised to take ownership of digital tools and to advocate at the user interface.

The FAIRshare project has two main objectives. Firstly, to develop an open inventory of the digital tools and services in use internationally, which will be available to all advisors. Secondly, to create a ‘living lab’ which empowers advisors from across the EU to engage and interact with the online inventory.”

FAIRshare will fund 40 different advisory cases that will enable advisors to address the challenge of embedding digital tools in different advisory and farming contexts across the EU. Special focus will be on co-designing powerful communication and engagement approaches for advisors to advocate and inspire their peers and farmer clients, driving a stronger network for the wider and better use of digital tools.

Editor Notes:

FAIRshare in figures:


5 years of project

22 partners from 15 countries

6 998 652.50 € of budget



TEAGASC – Ireland




SEASN – Croatia


Agricultural University of Athens – EL

ZLTO – Netherlands



Fundacion Cajamar – ES

Consulai – PT

Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture – HU


Stichting Wageningen Research – NL

Naturland – Germany

Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentacion y Medio Ambiente – ES

Association des chambres d’agriculture de l’arc atlantique – FR





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Soil Farmer of the Year competition launched on World Soil Day

Sharing best practice and innovation through championing farmers who are improving their soils.

The Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit and Innovation for Agriculture’s competition to find the UK’s Soil Farmer of the Year 2019 is open for applications.

Following on from its success over the last three years, the competition opens again this year on World Soils Day, highlighting the important role farmers have to play in managing, protecting and sustaining soils. It aims to find farmers and growers who are engaged with and passionate about managing their soils in a way which supports productive agriculture, promotes biodiversity, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and builds soil organic matter.

The competition has attracted a high calibre of applicants with top quality farmers being recognised over the last three years. Originally won by Clive Bailye in its inaugural year, the competition has recognised Richard Suddes and Tim Parton in 2017, and Simon Cowell in 2018 along with a host of other talented farmers who are passionate about soil management who have been finalists.

5 Quick Questions for Dairy Farmers

As project leader for 4D4F (Data Decisions for Dairy Farmers) we would like to hear from dairy farmers about what really matters to you.

There are 5 quick questions about the use of sensor technologies to improve productivity and sustainability on dairy farms:

Link here

30 Healthy Soil Workshops – coming soon!

Innovation for Agriculture, in partnership with Catchment Sensitive Farming, are running Healthy Soils workshops over the country this winter.

Commencing on the 17th December 2018 in Norfolk there will be 30 interactive workshops delivered to farmers and advisors before spring.

These events are free to attend and are focusing on soil health and building soil organic matter for soil health and fertility.

All events will be listed on the IfA website shortly.

Sharing data and experience to benefit sustainable dairy farming

For the 4D4F farming network, the sharing of tech know-how has already resulted in improved welfare and profitability, with potential to increase feed efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The EU-supported 4D4F network  was established to help dairy farmers base management decisions on data, such as that gathered by sensing equipment, leading to best practices for more sustainable dairy farming.

Sharing knowledge

4D4F has evolved around a European-wide Community of Practice (CoP) to share knowledge, both physically and virtually. As project coordinator, Mr Richard Lloyd explains, “It was important to focus on subjects determined in a bottom-up way. So the community voted on what was important for them. Out of this we arrived at 12 special interest groups.”

For each group 4D4F developed a Best Practice Guide, an infographic and a best practice video, all made available in the languages of the project partners.

These groups, along with an additional virtual resource known as the Warehouse of Technology, (comprising an overview of, and comparisons between, all of the current technology), were crucial to not only help farmers make the best investment decisions for their particular farms, but also unlock the potential of the technology already owned.

Read full article here

Free Webinar With Leading Dairy Experts & Farmers

4D4F (Data Decisions for Dairy Farmers) is hosting an informative webinar on the latest dairy innovations, aimed to change the way we farm.

From improving animal welfare to reducing the use of antibiotics, listen to experts from across Europe on how technologies are shaping the future of dairy farming and the food industry.

The webinar is a unique industry event, where you will have the chance to access a wealth of information and expertise for free, and you will be given plenty of time to send your questions and get answers in real time.

Dairy technology – starting the welfare revolution

Time: 13.00–14.00 Wednesday November 21st, 2018

Venue: Media event – webcast

The benefits associated with using sensor technology in dairy farming are far reaching:

  • Improved animal welfare;
  • Enhanced animal performance and farm profitability;
  • Improved product quality;
  • Minimised adverse environmental impacts;
  • Reduced use of antibiotics through preventive health measures.

Join the 4D4F webinar to see:

  • How to make better, more consistent decisions on farm;
  • A warehouse that helps farmers make the best investment decision;
  • Two technologies combined to revolutionise lameness management;
  • Who has won the 2018 4D4F innovation prize.

How to access the webinar and further information

RASE’s Pig & Poultry Fair Wins National Award

RASE’s Pig & Poultry Fair wins national award


The Technical Events Team at Grandstand Stoneleigh Events were delighted to be awarded the organising team of the year at a prestigious event at London’s Honourable Artillery Company last week.


The team won the award for organising the Royal Agricultural Society of England’s 2018 British Pig & Poultry Fair, the leading professional business event for the sectors which takes place at the NAEC Stoneleigh.


The judges praised the collaborative approach of the team who constantly strive to deliver the greatest possible value for visitors and exhibitors alike, keeping the event relevant and working closely with industry bodies and organisations.


“This award is well deserved and recognises all the hard work which goes on behind the scenes to deliver the Fair to such a high standard,” says Andrew Lazenby, chief executive at the Royal Agricultural Society of England. “We know our events are in good hands with Alice and her team.”


Feedback from the 2018 Fair has some very impressive statistics; 97% of visitors rated their visit to the event as good or excellent and 80% planned to make changes to their business as a result of their visit – testament that the Fair is working for pig and poultry producers.


Exhibitors had a good event too with 100% of exhibitors meeting most or all of their objectives of exhibiting and 95% rating the organisation of the Fair as good or excellent.


“We feel extremely privileged to organise the British Pig & Poultry Fair and are really pleased to win this award for the industry as a whole,” says Alice Bell, Head of the Technical Events Team. “We might be a specialist sector, but it is great to see our industry event getting recognised at a national level. We really want to thank everyone who helped make the 2018 Fair such a success, from all the exhibitors who built fabulous stands, to the visitors who travelled to Stoneleigh and everyone in between.”


Held in May at the NAEC Stoneleigh, the Fair attracts over 370 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors, who attend to see what is new, gather advice and hear from the experts. Planning is already under way for the next Fair taking place on 12th & 13th May 2020, which promises to be even better still!

David Gardner Shortlisted for 2018 Bullock Award

David Gardner, former IfA CEO, shortlisted for the 2018 Bullock Award


Innovation for Agriculture and the Royal Agricultural Society of England congratulate former CEO, David Gardner, for being shortlisted as one of the five finalists for the 2018 Bullock Award.

In writing his profile on Farmers Weekly, editor Karl Schneider, who refers to David as ‘the technology missionary’, said: “David Gardner owes the job he held until he retired earlier this year directly to his Nuffield research project.

It was the presentations he gave following his Nuffield study, on how new technology could transform UK agriculture, that led to him being asked to join the Royal Agricultural Society of England as a trustee.

In 2012 David became chief executive of RASE, with a brief to put in place a knowledge exchange programme for farmers. David formed Innovation for Agriculture (IfA), a consortium of 16 agricultural societies that uses its network to deliver knowledge exchange to local farming communities. IfA organises workshops, conferences and farm walks. Its current programmes include ‘Soil Health and Organic Matter’, ‘Precision Livestock Farming’ and ‘Antimicrobial Resistance’, with a new work programme under development on the use of digital technologies”.

Andrew Lazenby, IfA and RASE CEO, who took over from David in May this year said: “This is a well-deserved achievement in recognition of all the hard work David does, not just for IfA and RASE, but as a service to the whole farming sector in the UK. We wish him the very best in his future endeavours and we can’t think of anyone worthier of this prestigious award”.

The Bullock Award is presented to Nuffield scholars who have achieved the most 10 years after concluding their Nuffield research projects. It was established in memory of Steven Bullock, former FW manager. The winner will be announced at the Nuffield Farming Conference on November 23. Good luck, David!

IfA Joins SmartAgriHubs

IfA joins SmartAgriHubs, a €20 million project to promote digitalisation in farming


Innovation for Agriculture is proud to announce the official launch of SmartAgriHubs, a project part of the EU H2020 initiative, aiming to accelerate the digital transformation of the agri-food sector in Europe.


140Digital Innovation Hubs, 9 regional cluster & 28 flagship innovation experiments

The project has the potential to be a real game changer in the adoption of digital solutions by the farming sector. Recent initiatives showed the eagerness of the sector to seize the opportunities offered by ICT, network and data–oriented technologies. However, current available applications are still fragmented and mainly used by a small group of early-adopters.

SmartAgriHubs will leverage, strengthen and connect local DIHs, and 20 000 Competence Centres (CCs) throughout Europe. SmartAgriHubs has already put together a large network of 140 DIHs by building on its existing projects and ecosystems such as Internet of Food and Farm (IoF2020).


Andrew Lazenby, IfA CEO, participated in the two-day event that signed the official launch of the project, at the Hague in November. “We are proud to be part of the consortium of European organisations involved in the SmartAgriHubs project” said Mr Lazenby. “IfA’s motto is to help farmers put innovation into practice to improve profitability; digitalisation is a key area of work for the whole agri-food sector in the UK and IfA is best placed to be the go-to incubator and disseminator of the latest developments in the field”.


A multi-stakeholder approach

SmartAgriHubs brings together different expertise and involves a broad value-chain network covering all EU member states. The consortium includes a vast network of start-ups, SMEs, business and service providers, technology experts and end-users. End-users from the agri-food sector are at the heart of the project and the driving force of the digital transformation.

Strong focus on communication, training and stakeholder engagement

SmartAgriHubs aspires to create an interconnected ecosystem where stakeholders work together in the different phases of innovation from early research to application on farms. Therefore, promoting stakeholder dialogue and providing timely information on progresses and achieved results lies at the heart of the project’s communication activities. To involve, train and inform its audience, several tools will be put in place by the consortium throughout the duration of the project. For instance, in the innovation portal information will be easily accessible by farmers and their businesses, creating an effective, efficient and satisfactory user experience. A catalogue for farmers and agribusiness is also foreseen, mapping the existing digital technology field, to exchange best practices among the network.


George Beers, Project Manager at Wageningen University & Research and SmartAgriHubs Project Coordinator: “SmartAgriHubs will not only increase the competitiveness and sustainability of Europe’s agri-food sector. It will become the 4th industrial revolution that will strategically re-orient the digital European agricultural innovation ecosystem towards excellence and success. Together with our partners we believe SmartAgriHubs will unlock the potential of digitization by creating a pan-European network of Digital Innovation Hubs, organizing an inclusive ecosystem around them and fostering them to achieve their full innovation acceleration capacity.”


Key facts at a glance:

  • Instrument: Horizon 2020, DT-RUR-12-2-18: ICT Innovation for agriculture
  • Contribution of the European Union: €20 million
  • Duration: 4 years, 2018-2022
  • Consortium: 108 initial partners, possibility to extend through open calls
  • 140 digital innovation hubs, 9 regional cluster & 28 flagship innovation experiments
  • Bridge public-private funding by mobilising additional funding (30 M€)
  • Strong focus on establishing a sustainable network of DIHs with viable business models and investment funds