This summer the consortium met in Copenhagen thanks to the organisational support of two of our project partners, L&F SEGES and the University of Copenhagen. As well as the workshops and training on communicating science in user-generated video (see our previous blog post), it was a great opportunity to catch up on activity across the project and plan our next steps into 2020. The meeting kicked off with a welcome to the L&F SEGES building by Esben Tranholm, a senior advisor who works on agricultural and environmental sustainability in Denmark. It was inspiring to hear of the efforts across the agricultural sector in Denmark to tackle climate change whilst maintaining high quality output.
We then needed to update everyone on the work we have been doing over the last 12 months - make sure you sign up to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up-to-date yourself. On the first day of the meeting, Laura from LEAF introduced us to their new Speak Out toolkit which is an online website training tool designed to help farmers and scientists communicate their work more clearly. The toolkit can be found here and can be accessed by anyone looking for tips and advice on communication. We then had the session on how to film our own videos for sharing on social media, which gave us tips and tricks for later in the meeting when we did some filming of our own out in the field.
It was interesting to then begin to share preliminary scientific results coming in from across the project. The team involved in modelling successful plant teams have been very busy testing the Daisy and APSIM models, as well as creating their own M3 model for plant teams. This modelling work has been using data from the field trials in DIVERSify and will continue to be developed as more data is produced from the project. There remain some key questions that we need to consider to ensure the models reach their full potential:
1) What is a good indicator to quantify whether an intercrop is successful or not?
2) Which crop traits and management practices do you think a model should take into account in order to use it to design cereal-legume intercropping systems in Europe?
3) How can growth models be used as part of a decision support system to advise practitioners who are interested in growing plant teams?
We spent some time in smaller groups discussing these questions and look forward to seeing how the models develop and their recommendations for plant team design.
In our work applying the ecological approach to identify mechanisms & traits for optimised plant teams lots of field trial data from plot scale trials in several regions and countries across Europe has been generated. We spent some time working in groups looking at the data and discussing how we might want to communicate these results to breeders, farmers and modellers. There was a lot to take in in the limited time available and we aim to continue to digest these results in coming weeks and months. There was also an update on the plants team combinations that are being tested during this year’s field trials. These will feed into the existing data collected and provide further scientific rigour, as well as testing some innovative plant team combinations and exploring the underlying mechanisms involved in niche complementarity in more detail. Watch this space!
We also reviewed results from the large scale field trials for validation and demonstration within the project at different partner sites across Europe, and some of the data generated by our participatory farmers who have run their own plant team trials and taken measurements supported by one of the project partners as their buddy. We have a good spread of participatory farmers across Europe but we would like some more in France and Germany, so if you are reading this and would be interested in running a trial on your farm during 2019-2020, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the welcome pack and application form found here: https://www.plant-teams.eu/other-resources.
The final work package involves the development of a data catalogue for the project datasets to be deposited and collated. The team have also begun developing a decision aid support tool which will allow the data from both the project and previous trials to be easily accessed and viewed by agricultural practitioners and advisors. It was good to begin to understand how the data visualisation work will allow the data from the project to be viewed through graphs and maps rather than simply the numbers in a spreadsheet. We hope this will help us to share the key information more clearly and widely.
There was a focus on communication at this year's meeting which included a number of different workshops. This included a session on writing EIP-AGRI practice abstracts during which we chose the main topics that we will write about for the EIP Agri website and develop into technical guides for practical use, and we even managed to get a few written during the session! We had an update on presenting our results to an academic and non-academic audience and optimising the use of our social media accounts, as well as sessions thinking about the exploitation and legacy of the project findings. We also had a visit from Nilla Nilsdotter-Linde who works at SLU and is an EIP-AGRI innovation broker who gave us an interesting presentation on the work of operational groups and innovation in Sweden and the EU.
The highlight however was when we all hopped on a bus and traveled out to Taarstrup to look round the University of Copenhagen plant team field trials, this is where we put our filming training into practice and tested out the tips we had been given earlier by Taskscape. At the end of the day we sent our footage to Taskscape and they had a late night editing our videos ready for our first DIVERSify Oscar ceremony, which was awarded on the last day of the meeting before we all headed home. You can see the results in our previous blog - see if you agree with us on the award winner!