Farmer innovation groups


In order to fully involve the target group of the project, which are the farmers, OK-Net Arable worked with 14 farmer innovation groups. These were established groups of organic arable farmers or farmer associations engaged in research and innovation in various parts of Europe. Each group had an experienced coordinator (farmer, innovation broker or adviser) who was the contact person for the project.

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List of farmer innovation groups:


BASE-ABC (no website)
Contact person: Laurence Fontaine
Country: France
Region: All over France and a group in the south of England and one group in Ireland.
The BASE (Biodiversity Agriculture Soil & Environment) group was initially started by conventional farmers in the area of Bretagne. Today approximately 800 farmers and technicians have joined the network. They are dispersed all over France (as well as one group in the south of England and another in Ireland). A sub-group, BASE-ABC, was created in 2015 specifically for organic farmers. This group maintains a strong link to the wider BASE network. The organic group is focused on specific questions linked to organic farming and reduced tillage. The aims of the group are to: improve organic farming systems; exchange ideas on innovative farming practices; exchange on experiences of farmers to progress together; respect the soil by reducing tillage; experiment on-farm. There are currently 22 members of the group. 11 of these members were included in the data collection exercises, 10 men and 1 woman aged between 40 and 61. The group meets once a year and the meetings are facilitated by group members.

BioBedrijfsnetwerk Akkerbouw-groenten - BioForum Vlaanderen

Contact person: An Jamart

Country: Belgium

Region: Flanders

Farm type(s) of group members: arable, mixed arable and cattle, mixed arable and outdoor vegetables

Number of farms actively participating: 30
The BioForum Biobedrijfsnetwerk Akkerbouw-groenten (Arable-vegetables group) was initiated in 2010, prompted by positive experiences with similar groups for fruit and dairy farms. The arable group’s main focus is on soil fertility and weed management, but other themes have also been tackled such as disease and pest control, machinery, farm systems and packaging of potatoes. The group is also interested to explore other areas. The group aims to facilitate the exchange of information and experiences between farmers, and between farmers and advisers/researchers. It also strives to discuss and disseminate research outcome, discuss policy issues, identify new topics for research, and provide a space for farmers to get together and network with one another. The group involves approximately 20 members, 15 male and 5 female aged between 30 and 60. The group meets three times per year and meetings are facilitated by advisers from BioForum/INAGRO.

Biokompentenzzentrum Schlägl
Contact person: Magdalena Breuer
Country: Austria
Region: Upper Austria
The Biokompetenzzentrum Schlägl (“Organic Competence Centre”) was founded in 2011 by the Association of Graduates of Bioschule Schlägl (The “Bioschule” is an agricultural college with a focus on Organic Farming) and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL Austria) and is funded by the province of Upper Austria. The aim of the group is to conduct field trials in arable farming in order to develop site-specific organic agriculture that is relevant to producers in the region. There have been various field trials on participating farms in recent years. Information is available via a group website and interested farmers can arrange to visit the trial sites. There are approximately 8 members of the group, 4 males and 4 females aged between 20 and 55. The group meets twice a year, meetings are facilitated by college staff.

Bionet Austria/Bionet Burgenland
Contact person: Andreas Kranzler
Country: Austria
Region: Lower Austria and Burgenland
Farm type(s) of group members: cropping farms, vegetable farms
Number of farms actively participating: 70
Bionet was founded by advisers and researchers 2015 to adapt (inter)national research results to Austrian conditions on the hand and on to evaluate existing farmers’ know how on the other hand. In a second step, Bionet established different working groups to facilitate two-way exchange of knowledge between farmers, advisers and researchers. These groups also perform field trials, the results of which are promoted through the website, leaflets and seminars. Especially the working group on vegetable farming has become very successful and now coordinates the research in Austria in this area. The next step of Bionet is to connect the group with similar projects in Europe to exchange experiences and knowledge.


Contact person: Petar Kirov

Country: Bulgaria

Region: South Central region

Farm type(s) of group members: arable farms (no animals), mixed farms

Number of farms actively participating: 11

The group is a network of farmers, researchers, advisors with the aim to share existing information, best practices, and innovative methods and to solve the main problems in organic arable production. The group was established before launching the project "OK-Net Arable". The aim of the group is to improve knowledge exchange, cooperation and the development of organic agriculture in Bulgaria. The network operates mainly in the south central region of Bulgaria with stockless arable farms and mixed farms. Farmers have been involved in testing innovative technologies with the aim of increasing the area of sustainably managed land in the country. Currently there are approximately 12 farms actively participating in the network, 7 men and 5 women aged between 28 and 52. The group meets twice per year; the meetings are facilitated by an adviser.


Contact person: Carlo Ponzio

Country: Italy

Region: Marche

Farm type(s) of group members: Small family farms and large commercial farms with rotations of cereals and fodder crops in rainfed conditions.

Number of farms actively participating: 50

The consortium ConMarcheBio consists of five farmer cooperatives that are active in organic farming since the 1970’s. ConMarcheBio represents the majority of the organic farmers of the Marche region and covers the whole durum wheat organic value chain, from wheat production to pasta making. The cropping system is based on durum wheat, spelt and oats that are typically rotated with alfalfa, clover or pulses, under rainfed conditions.

Réseau RotAB

Contact person: Laurence Fontaine

Country: France

Region: national

Farm type(s) of group members: stockless arable farms

Number of farms actively participating: 12 long-term experiments, each involving several farmers, researchers and advisers


The RotAB project consists of 12 long-term farm experiments assessing stockless organic arable crop systems. The goal of the experiments is to design resilient and sustainable crop systems. All crop systems involved rely very strongly on agroecological techniques (more legumes in the crop rotation, cover crops, intercrops, less use of fuel…). The RotAB network promotes knowledge exchange at two levels: (1) within the network and (2) between researchers/advisers involved in the long-term experiments and local farmers.


Eesti Mahepõllumajanduse Sihtasutus / Estonian Organic Farming Foundation

Contact person: Airi Vetemaa

Country: Estonia

Region: national

Farm type(s) of group members: Organic vegetable growers, organic cereal growers

Number of farms actively participating: 20


The Estonian Organic Farming Foundation (Eesti Mahepõllumajanduse Sihtasutus) is an NGO that aims to support the development of organic farming, ranging from primary production over processing to marketing. It performs different information, training and advocacy activities and is engaged in research and sector development projects both at national and international level.

The Estonian Organic Farming Foundation has over 10 years of experience with different training activities (seminars, workshops, field days, study trips etc.) and has been working closely together with relevant experts – researchers, advisors and practitioners. Between 2013 and 2015 the Estonian Organic Farming Foundation has organised around 160 training days in Estonia and 9 study trips abroad, and published 4 booklets on organic farming technologies, guidelines for implementing organic farming regulations and guidelines for small-scale processors.

Hungarian network for on-farm research in organic arable cropping (ÖMKI)

Contact person: Mihály Földi

Country: Hungary

Region: national

Farm type(s) of group members: mainly stockless arable farms

Number of farms actively participating: 10


The aim of the network is to develop organic arable farming in Hungary by involving organic farmers in participative practical research. The research helps farmers to increase their productivity and competitiveness.

In collaboration with various actors of the organic sector, the network tests the performance of types, varieties, preparations, methods, and seed mixes in everyday practice. Participating farmers gain insight from their own experiences that is directly relevant for the growing conditions of their land and the methods they use. The research thus has a direct impact on growing practices. At the same time, the research gives a broader picture of Hungarian organic production and potential solutions to improve. In connection with practical studies, the network organises meetings and makes publications. Results from all tests are published online with open access.

Danish organic arable farmers, participation of three farmer innovation groups:
SEGES Sjælland, SEGES Vejle and SEGES Videbæk

Contact person: Frank Oudshoorn

Country: Denmark

Region: national

Farm type(s) of group members: arable farms, with and without livestock

Number of farms actively participating: 110


The network aims at improving yields and reducing the dependency on conventional animal manure. The network organises farmer field school where farmers advise each other. Local advisors act as facilitators. The network also performs many local field trials, produces fact sheets and develops advisory tools, for example to calculate mineral balances on farm and field level, or gross margin per ha. Information is mainly exchanged through the online platform LandbrugsInfo.

ORC Arable Group
Contact person: Susanne Padel
United Kingdom
Region: Mostly from the south east and south west of England.
This group was established for the purposes of the OK-Net Arable project to ensure the inclusion of UK farmers. Meetings are held on farms of group members on a rotational basis. Members come from different parts of the UK, but mostly from the south east and south west of England. Communication takes place via email and an online Wiggio platform has been established. 9 farmers are actively involved in the group at the current time, all male aged between 30 and 60. Group meetings are held on a quarterly basis and are facilitated by ORC staff using participatory approaches. Membership of the group is open and is likely to expand over time.

Verbund Ökologische Praxisforschung (VÖP): Nutrient management subgroup

Contact person: Stephanie Fischinger

Country: Germany

Region: Lower Saxony

Farm type(s) of group members: all types of farms


Number of farms actively participating: VÖP is the network of the three major farmers’ organisations in Germany. Approximately 9500 farms are members of these organisations.