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In Europe, more than 5,000 advisers and trainers are involved in agricultural and environmental issues, from food producers to students. However, many of them are currently experiencing a blurring of their professional identity. They must continually update their knowledge, develop a systemic approach to farming, and separate the administrative from the relational requirements. Their professional status varies greatly among countries; a process of normalization of this status is excluded and we should concentrate on improving professionalization and adaptability in the job. The aims of New Advisers, funded by Leonardo da Vinci and involving eight countries and two transnational advisers’ networks, is to define and transfer some effective methods for advisers and trainers for use in agronomy, particularly concerning pesticides.
Boosting effective training and advice: The recent inclusion of agro-ecology requires new skills from advisers and trainers. From a dynamic point of view, the adaptation and expansion of skills should be promoted by the internal diversity of technical teams and by the involvement of advisers in new channels and networks (ICT, peer groups, etc.). To increase the effectiveness of advisers and trainers, greater value should be given to individual points of view (farmers, other stakeholders) and creativity and self-trust should be encouraged.
European policies after 2013 could strengthen the cross-compliance regulation and may substantially change the Farm Advisory Services (FAS). From this perspective, some transnational work on adapting the skills deployed by the agricultural advisers is necessary at this point. ‘New Advisers’ is a mixed project which links the goal of reducing pesticides, updating agronomic advice and training and connecting to other disciplines such as ergonomics, agro-economy, sociology of organisations, etc.
In order to equip trainers and advisers with renewed tools and methods, available to different publics (beneficiaries or customers), and local situations, an experiment will be implemented in the eight partner countries: Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Hungary, Slovenia and France.
In the eight partner countries, advisers themselves will test identical tools to solve agronomic problems. This experiment makes it possible to conduct very interesting collaborative work:
Indeed, the implementation of the tools begins simultaneously during the experiment; it extends it, and is transmitted as a testimonial and transmission by example rather than by theoretical information. We will work as a group of farmers, who are looking for reconstruction of their crop systems while reducing pesticides. Here the advisers and their agencies themselves recompose their own practices.
This project organises and gives value to transfers between countries and organisations. The partners have various technical and organisational levels. They act in a reciprocal exchange of knowledge, where 'learning by doing' is the rule.
Key steps: There are two main steps in New Advisers:
1. Spring 2012 , the ‘experiment’ starts with some innovative methods and tools (such as Discussion group, Problem-based learning, Clear vision, Forum theatre, etc.), in the eight partner countries. This experimentation and subsequent evaluation lets us observe how advisers use and develop their expertise and skills, how they access scientific knowledge and information chains and ensure they give quality advice.
2. Spring to September 2013 , results will be released by the national networks (Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Hungary, Slovenia, and France) and the transnational networks (Chambers of Agriculture in Europe, IALB) to member states of Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe.
Pedagogic gains will be made by validating and transferring innovative training tools and by disseminating practices from ‘learning by doing’. This methodological investment will also give us some indications in how to improve access for advisers to scientific and technical resources.
Technical cooperation is gradually taking place with the EU project ENDURE, which will share its work on advising for integrated farming. Moreover, the technical results of New Advisers will also be published on the ENDURE website, provided by the French Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA).
Project title: New Advisers
Project Number: 2011-FR1-LE005-24388
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