A funding call has been made to support farm advisors across Europe in embracing new digital tools and technology.

The Farm Advisory Digital Innovation Tools Realised and Shared (FAIRshare) project, which launched in November 2018, aims to enable a more digitally active farm and farm advisory community.

The project focusses on bridging the digital divide between, and within, advisory services by encouraging and supporting farm and agricultural advisors to adopt or adapt existing digital advisory tools and services (DATS) and by conducting training and networking activities to share experiences among advisors in using DATS.

It is envisaged that, by supporting farm advisors to become more proficient in using DATS, they will then be best placed to support farmers in participating in the digital age given their key role and position in the agricultural and knowledge innovation system (AKIS).

To engage with farm, agricultural and forestry advisors directly, the project aims to fund a number of user cases (UCs), or living labs, targetting agricultural, farm and forestry advisors, to help support engagement with a range of DATS across Europe.

Applicants can include a farm or agricultural advisory service, a cohort of advisors within an advisory service, or a group of independent advisors.

While a number of UCs have already been established as part of the FAIRshare project, FAIRshare now intends to fund a further 13 UCs valued at €30,000 each.

A public tender process has launched to select these UCs and they will be spread across Europe in four regions or lots.

Ireland is included in Lot 1, along with France, UK, Spain, Portugal, where three UCs will be coordinated by Teagasc.

FAIRshare will support each selected UC with funding of up to €30,000. It is intended that these UCs should run up to six months.

UCs can be broad and adopt many different approaches.

Some examples could include, but are not limited to, the adaptation and adoption of specific digital tools, skills and training development, capacity building and communication activities within advisory organisations to support digital tools adoption.

Professor Tom Kelly, the principal investigator of the FAIRshare project, said:

“This is a great opportunity for advisors and their organisations to get funding for specific digitalisation actions which are needed to improve services to farmers.”

Proposals are now being accepted through a public procurement competition, which is available here.