Keywords: digital advisory tools, advisory services, digital services, digital technologies, digital agriculture.
The recent SCAR-AKIS policy brief on the Future of Farm Advisory Services (2017) recognises the opportunity for farm advisors to use new digital technologies and data flows to add value to their work, through more open data exchange and digital services. It proposes the strengthening of those support systems which enable advisors to do their job more effectively; and improved connections for knowledge to be shared and developed further. Enhanced decision making around fertiliser application requires the effective use of data related to fertiliser input options, recommendations, limits, crop type and responsiveness to fertilisers, field specifications, environmental risk, climate, machinery, etc.
Agricultural advisors play an important role as intermediaries, to assist farmers in interpreting data pertaining to fertiliser application decisions. Advisors using Digital Tools and Services (DATS) can identify key periods when data are required and where quick decision making is paramount. Additionally, advisors are able to illustrate to farmers the value in collected data pertinent to fertiliser application. Increased use of data and decision-making tools will therefore help many advisors provide better, more informed and targeted advice to their clients.
The EU H2020 FAIRshare CSA project aims to enable a more digitally active farm and farm advisory community. As one aim of this project, a digital platform has been developed to collect and distribute information on digital tools and services used by advisors, with a view to improving the acquisition, exchange and dissemination of DATS. The objective is to collect DATS related to all sectors and aspects of agriculture that are used by European advisors; many of these DATS are directly related to fertiliser application. The overall goal of the project is to support the sharing of digital tools, experiences and motivations within the farm advisor community and the farmers they serve. This will include a multi-lingual, web-based catalogue and semantic search tool, (‘Digital Advisor’) which itself takes digital services and tools for farmers and advisers as its core domain.
J. Hyland, T. Kelly and A. Naughton, Teagasc, Athenry, Co. Galway, Ireland
14 pages, 2 figures, 1 table, 15 references