Jussi Juhola from ProAgria, Finnish advisory service says “Did you know that agricultural advisers in Finland in total hold 45,000 meetings and travel 5.5 million km annually?” ProAgria has launched a free, open-source, digital platform in order to improve efficiency of agricultural advice and transform Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems (AKIS). The platform enables 24/7 advice, improved access to information and peer group benchmarking.
The agricultural sector in Europe is seeing a growing number of digital technologies which can support farmers to provide safe, sustainable and quality food. Digitisation is not confined only to technological support in the field, it can also facilitate the exchange of knowledge.
AKIS is the term used to describe the combined performance of advisers, agricultural training and educational systems, researchers and farmer organisations and the ways they share agriculture-related knowledge and information and promote mutual learning. Digitisation can be extremely effective in supporting these systems
ProAgria is an organisation in Finland which provides expert services and know-how to agriculture and rural businesses “We produce advisory and development services to members and customers bringing added value, quality, competitiveness and productivity to their operations” says Jussi Juhola, Director of International Relations. Their advisers support farmers and small businesses on a range of topics, including business and financial management, sales and marketing, R&D and enhancing production and also environmental issues and personal well-being.
It is important for ProAgria that this advice is available to farmers when they need it, that information is accessible at any moment. Also, they feel is important for farmers to be able to share with peers to compare techniques and results, in order to improve their agricultural systems. They have therefore set up a digital online platform as a tool to enable this 24/7 support.
For each user, key information for their situation is collected on a single dashboard. The platform enables online client meetings, chat services, automated advice, forecasts and alerts. The latest knowledge from research and also from authorities is disseminated on the platform. It enables measurable performance for the farm through sophisticated reports combining various production data and peer group benchmarking.
“Anyone can access the platform and it is free of charge for users.” Says Jussi. ProAgria have also been careful about data protection issues; the website has security measures such as authentication to sensitive information, data-protection, secure communication channels and encrypted transmission and storage of important documents.
Jussi goes on to explain “The platform was launched to the general public on 15 June 2018 and so far includes tools for the everyday management of dairy farms and direct single sign-on access to ProAgria’s farm management software (accounting, crop planning and herd management). Activities are currently under way to develop the platform further.”