WP leader: Eystein Ystad, Nilf

In WP3 real pilots will be developed and run by the business partners and involving researchers as action research and participatory design. Action research has an explicit orientation towards achieving social or organizational change at various levels through intense contact between the researcher and community members researched (Burns et al 2014). “So action research is about working toward practical outcomes, and also about creating new forms of understanding, since action without reflection and understanding is blind, just as theory without action is meaningless” (Reason and Bradbury 2008:4). By applying an action reflection learning approach (Rennemo 2006) it will be possible to change the practice during the interaction with the pilots. In participatory design, end users and other stakeholders are invited to cooperate with designers, researchers and developers during a system building and implementation process (Kensing and Blomberg, 1998). An aim is to engage the participants in mutual learning for building common understanding of the new system (Bjerknes and Bratteteig, 1995).

This approach is transdisciplinary in nature, seeking to work across and beyond disciplines and integrate disciplines and stakeholders’ views (Repko 2012).

Tasks:  Pilot 1 to 5: Testing of five pilot projects.

Key research questions: How can new methods for fostering interaction between farmer, advisor and researcher be developed? How can a business actor facilitate continuous renewing and innovation in organizing for competence development?

Organisation of the pilots: The organisation of the pilots will vary according to the character of the pilot. Business partners will take ownership of the pilots, being responsible for one pilot each. One researcher will be included in each pilot team with an estimation of 150 working hours. The pilot team runs the pilot. The length of each pilot may vary but about two years will be the norm. Eventually use of computer applications for smart phones will be considered. However, costs for this are not included and must find other funding when relevant. The researchers in pilot teams constitute a research team in WP3. In this team the researchers can discuss and analyse the pilots in which they participate. From this research team they can return to pilots with new perspectives and recommendations. This kind of organisation can stimulate a distance to research object when analysing, which can be a challenge in action research.

Pilots in WP3: The final choice of pilots will be done ¾ year after the project start to enable drawing of preliminary results of WP1 and WP2. The current five most relevant candidates for pilots are listed below (these might change if more relevant cases arise).

Preliminary candidates for pilots:

  • Pilot 1: Farmer discussion groups. Farmers in a specific geographic area are organised to meet and discuss how they perform their job and how they can improve. Supervisors from TINE participate at the meetings and contribute with technical input. Participants must feel confident that they will be taken seriously and get help from others in the group when they present their problems. Developing trust and personal relationships are thus a key concept. In this pilot we will develop methods for networks that can achieve a climate for the sharing of expertise, and the role of the advisory services can play to facilitate the best possible learning outcomes. Pilot owner and manager: TINE.
  • Pilot 2: Groups and interaction with researchers. The Norwegian Agricultural Extension Service (NLR) has long experience in advising farmers, both one-to-one and in groups. Such groups are often able to address a challenge, but “nobody” knows the best solution. As a pilot a model will be developed by connecting a researcher directly to the group. This will help the group to achieve a research approach to the challenges that they are unable to solve themselves, and direct contact gives a new opportunity for the researcher to gain a focused overview of the field. The first priority is to have a pilot in production of fruit and/or vegetables because new challenges in those sectors occur often and very fast. The method will also be highly relevant for sectors such as cereals, potatoes and fodder. Pilot owner and manager: NLR.
  • Pilot 3: Teams of farmers and advisors. Although the advisors in TINE, Felleskjøpet and Nortura have feed consumption and feed costs in beef production in focus it seems like this is not being implemented by the farmers. High slaughter weights and long periods of feeding are indicators that support this assumption. Why is this so and what can be done to change this? In this pilot a project involving a group of farmers and advisors from Nortura will try to solve this question in practice to improve feeding efficiency in beef production. Pilot owner and manager: Nortura.
  • Pilot 4: Experts in team. This pilot aim to strengthen cooperation between the supervisors on fodder in cattle and dairy farming. Farmers need the best expertise suited for their own specific situation and this pilot will strengthen the advisory services to achieve this through new methods and increased flexibility.  Pilot owner and manager: Felleskjøpet Agri.
  • Pilot 5: Interaction between experts and experience based groups. The council of collaboration in agriculture in Mid-Norway has initiated the programme Grønn forskning, and together with Kompetanseløft trøndersk landbruk they are working to improve the knowledge and competence in agriculture. Grønn forskning has working groups with farmers and advisors on specific themes to discuss and identify questions which need knowledge based answers. Kompetanseløft is organising experience groups among farmers that intend to stimulate learning by peers. In this pilot they want to test how these groups can make use of experts to both get answers on their own questions and make these answers accessible for others. These experts, i.e. researchers, will meet the groups for presentation and discussion. Further, it is planned to disseminate these in an appropriate channel such as webinar, popularized article etc. This pilot will be started early in the project (2015).

Pilot owner: Midt-norsk samarbeidsråd for landbruket

Pilot manager: Øyvind Mejdell Jakobsen