Transforming farming with farmer led experimentation

By: Peer-Reviewed Publication

Agricultural scientists are changing the way they think about how and why they do field research. A recent article published in Nature Food suggests that a key motivation for this change is the mounting evidence highlighting the limits of conventional small plot research.

In their article entitled “On-farm Experimentation to Transform Global Agriculture,” the team of scientists is described as a network of international institutions with the shared goals of “formalizing the emerging scientific field of OFE research,” and spearheading movement towards the development of OFE as a more widespread way of doing field research.

At its core, the approach depends on a continuous cycle of on-farm engagement, evaluation, feedback, and improvement. Similar to the concept of product enrichment through a value chain, scientific innovation ideally gains effectiveness as it progresses through a scientific process.

OFE is defined as an innovation process that brings agricultural stakeholders together around mutually beneficial experimentation to support farmers’ own management decisions.

The current interest and momentum in OFE can be linked to the current growth and investment in digital technology (DA) in agriculture. Better DA accessibility is expanding the capacities of field research and shifting its focus increasingly towards tackling the issues farmers face at more relevant scales.