From October 13 to 15, 2021, #DigitAg organized OFE2021, the 1st international conference on farmer-centric on-farm experimentation, with a focus on digital tools.
About 170 people from 36 countries were registered to this first edition co-financed by the OECD Research Cooperation Program “Sustainable Systems”, Agropolis Foundation, MUSE-MAK’IT, Occitanie Region and #DigitAg. The unstable health context led us to opt for a hybrid format, and to replace the posters by “e-presentations” (4-minute videos).
The conference began with a roundtable of practitioners including farmers, suppliers and advisors, and concluded with a workshop to refine the contours and characteristics of this new field, in particular to identify recommendations in terms of public policy support.
The important messages are that OFE, on-farm experimentation centered on farmers and their real production conditions, is indeed part of an innovation logic whose specificities, such as their links with digital technologies, must be explored. If digital technologies are not indispensable (one can do farmer centered OFE with a notebook and a pencil), they greatly facilitate the implementation of OFE: to set up experiments (for example, by using variable rate application technologies), to collect data (from smartphone applications to satellite or drone measurements), and finally to share results and bring the innovation ecosystem to life. And this with examples coming from the agricultures of Western as well as Southern countries.
OFE2021 will be followed by the publication of the proceedings and a special issue of the journal “Agronomy for Sustainable Development.