The European Commission announced the 2021 Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA) will take place in March, incorporating their annual conference on March 23rd in a virtual studio-based format.
The event will focus on ‘food system renewal’ recognising that the world must urgently deal with the implications of the Covid-19 crisis but also with the increasingly severe consequences of climate change.
With a critical role to play in the drive to sustainability, the FFA2021 will examine how the food system can and should renew in all aspects, as well as what will be needed to achieve this transition.
Under the direction of Forum Chairman and former EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnick, FFA2021 will bring together high-level speakers from the EU and across the globe.
Registration is free – find out more
Using huge amounts of data collected by all kinds of different sensors, Van den Borne potato farm manages to use the land more efficiently than most other potato farms. They know exactly which areas of soil need more nutrients, where pests are eating leaves, or which plants aren’t getting enough sunlight – and they are able to act accordingly. Van den Borne recently started their ‘own’ airport called Agri Drone Port Reusel to be able to legally fly the drones that they want to use for monitoring the approximately 450 ha farm.
The third-generation farm has become like a testing ground for technology that has been repurposed for use in agriculture. Because the company has become such an outspoken advocate for so-called precision farming, scientists and other agricultural innovators know who to reach out to when they have some cool idea they’d like to test.
Thanks to the sensors, and the stack of data analytics tools that are being used, the farmer can be exactly where he needs to be, when he needs to be there. And the best thing: He’s not afraid to share his knowledge. Jacob Van den Borne actually preaches the use of technology in agriculture – which is probably why some people call him ‘the pope of precision farming’!!
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The SEED Project addresses training and qualifications to counteract inefficient and ineffective farming practises. It provides a new and innovative approach to vocational training in agriculture and agribusiness areas.
The earth lost one-third of all arable land in the last 40 years, a 2016 study reported. Poor agricultural practices are eroding soil at a rate up to 100 times faster than it can re-form or recover. Meanwhile, demand for crops is skyrocketing—to feed an estimated 9 billion people by 2050, the world’s farms will need to yield an estimated 50 percent more food.
Soil erosion costs European countries €1.25 billion in annual agricultural productivity loss and €155 million in the gross domestic product (GDP) loss, the EU reports). Smart farming can help to turn the tide as it helps preventing abusing our valuable soil through better and more precise fertilising, irrigation and use much less pesticide, but still resulting in better production.
SEED is a response to the need to better understand how to. maintain soil quality and fertility. Examine the curriculum and qualifications framework.
The SEED Project has published the final version of its Curriculum for vocational training for Digital Farming.
Following extensive peer review and critical analysis, the content of the curricular units comprising a Joint Qualification in Digital Farming has been completed. They were validated with national focus-groups and at a series of international peer-review events. The result is a brand-new Curriculum mapped both to DigComp (European Digital Competence Framework for citizens) and EntreComp (European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework) consisting of 3 interrelated and interconnected competence areas.
The curriculum can be used as a stand alone EQF5 new profile in Digital Farming or as a modular and flexible VET course to update or integrate the existing ones.
Download the Curriculum Framework
Curriculum (Dutch version)
While the SEED project is entering its last implementation phase, the Italian members of our consortium are kicking off several innovative European projects that have just been approved within the framework of the last Erasmus+ calls and they are all focusing on smart agriculture and rural development.
The projects operate at different levels to involve both young people, adults and experts by using digital tools, sustainable approaches, exchange of good practises, with the final aim to promote personal, professional and social development of those who are or are willing to work in agriculture and other related fields.
UmbraFlor, the SEED project coordinator, is involved in AGROGEN, a KA2 Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership in the field of Youth. The project promotes mountain agriculture as an opportunity for youth employment and it targets young people, between 18 and 30 years old, who are rooted in rural areas, with personal or professional aspirations focused on the agricultural and forestry sectors. It especially wants to give opportunities to participants with common interests and needs, in order to provide them with strategies, skills and attitudes that motivate them to join the productive network of their areas of origin.
EGInA, the European Grants International Academy, is involved as a partner in the following projects:
- SWEDA – Sustainable Wellbeing Entrepreneurship for Diversification in Agriculture – that will improve the entrepreneurial skills of higher education students for the promotion of well-being within agricultural and agri-food enterprises. A short specialization course will be designed and piloted in three European Universities supporting the realization of experimental activities in social farming, animal and environmental wellbeing, bio-economy and biodiversity strategies.
- YOU_WEEN! – YOUng Women grEen Entrepreneurs – focuses on young women who live in rural and isolated areas to give them tools and support improving their entrepreneurial training in sustainable development and fostering their employability and socio-educational/personal development. Youth workers will engage local youngsters in the participation at contests launched and voted through social networks.
- DIGIAGRIMARK – Safe Digital Marketing for Agripreneurs – aims at contributing to digitalisation in agriculture, so to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the agricultural sector through improving farmers’ digital marketing skills with digital safety & security.
Finally, the VET Agricultural School “Ciufelli-Einaudi” will be involved in a school exchange project with other institutes from France and North-Macedonia focused on biodiversity and bees.
The SEED Project has published its latest report on the Digital Farming Expert qualification. Three elements are addressed – AGRI – DIGI – INNO
- Agribusiness, which is assumed to be based on economic knowledge and skills, the logic and organization of production, logistics and selling processes; and integration in the value chain;
- Digital, which is assumed to be the technical knowledge foundations and skills (Information and data literacy, Communication and Collaboration, Digital content creation, Problem solving), all at the Advanced/Highly specialised levels of the Digcomp 2.1 framework, accordingly related to Agribusiness specificities;
- Innovation, assumed as the knowledge and skills necessaries to understanding the thread and the opportunities, carrying out feasibility studies, defining the correct approach and implement the due actions, in terms of project management and change management.
Download the report
Unsustainable farming has been named by the European Environment Agency in its latest report as one of the top pressures to blame for a drastic decline in Europe’s biodiversity, threatening the survival of thousands of animal species and habitats. They say that EU nature directives and other environmental laws are not being implemented by Member States and more rigorous conservation is needed to reverse the situation.
Find out more from the ‘State of nature in the EU’ report, published at https://www.eea.europa.eu/highlights/latest-evaluation-shows-europes-nature
After the forced postponement of the SEED transnational mobilities due to the Covid19 pandemic, the partners of the project have started again to organize the traineeships abroad. For a proper implementation, partners are working on the Assessment Standards, one of the key deliverables of the project. The document will serve as reference point during the piloting in order to guarantee the effectiveness and impact of the learning experiences, in particular for those competence units that have been identified by partners as suitable for being piloted during the transnational mobility. The deliverable will help to evaluate the traineeships, check the students progresses and in turn the Curriculum effectiveness and relevance.
The assessment standards have been developed in consistency with the EQAVET framework in order to guarantee a common standard and face the several differences that exist in the VET systems at national level. The EQAVET framework has also defined six building blocks designed to be useful and appropriate for the three main models of WBL:
- Apprenticeship schemes which combine training in companies and VET schools or other education/training institutions;
- On-the-job training in companies which typically cover internships, work placements or traineeships which are a compulsory or optional element of VET programmes leading to formal qualifications;
- Integration into a school-based programme through on-site laboratories, workshops, kitchens, restaurants, junior or practice firms, simulations or real business/industry projects and assignments.
The building blocks provide guidance and set out activities that help VET providers to develop and support a quality assurance approach for WBL in line with the EQAVET Framework.
The SEED Assessment standards will soon be available for project partners and organizations working in the VET field. Are you one of them? While waiting for the publication, discover the EQAVET framework!
Figure 1 Credits to ThisisEngineering RAEng