Farmer to Farmer Based Networking Platform

Hello All,

Leading farmers as well as institutions both have been responsible for advancing new science and implementation of new practices. Farmers have always networked to share ideas and farm level results and to then share farmer peer to peer tested results with others for consideration.

Since starting in these innovative farmer networks in the '70s long before the internet, working together across long distances was extremely difficult. But we were still able to make great accomplishments. While also working with institutions especially for their science expertise and for needed lab evaluation work.

With the development of the internet and then smartphones communications became much easier. But these technologies have taken time to get to rural areas. Same as it did for the telephone in the past getting to rural areas. Recently even if every farmer doesn’t yet have this technology, it is at least available in almost every area of the world. Local and regional personal networking can then get information to those farmers who aren’t yet connected through technology.

What is now missing is a global networking platform farmers to effectively be connected and organize efforts and collaborations. Farmers work 24-7 and being connected especially in sudden situations day or night that can arise has also always been crucial. Presently trying to use SM platforms that aren’t properly designed for these types of efforts has proved frustrating and inadequate. An some SM platforms just aren’t trusted or liked by some for many obvious reasons. And some designed for groups aren’t universally easy to learn to use and often come and go. And aren’t easy for a farmer to find.

Still one of the best platform designs for effective use, ease of universal understanding because it’s index based, has always been available, ownership and control by the users and adjustable for specific design needs being of open source development, is the phpbb platform.

The phpbb system can be embedded into a website that can also have other areas within the site for collecting and sharing information resourses etc. etc. This also offers the opportunity to create networks of phpbb platform networks all connected together. The concept came to me fittingly in these times as a nature-based solution, similar to how nature connects plants and organisms together with soil fungal networks, globally.

While considering nature-based solutions are now showing great potential in agriculture from the recent plant/soil biome and ecosystem science. And farmers using this nature-based science in improving implementation practices with great results. The advantage is the basic principles of nature functioning are universal, a universal language that can be understood by all. All then that is needed is local/regional context to be considered in implementation of the universal principles. This is where the networking platforms become invaluable. Such new popular topics as, reducing tillage, covercropping, new crop diversity, companion planting, benefical insects, soil health/biome functioning, etc… With the speed of generation of new knowledge and ideas, these networks can on specific innovation platform areas within the network do needed farmer and institution evaluations and then spread the new knowledge/ideas quickly and efficiently through the overall network. Because of the basic index based design of phpbb platforms all appropriate farm topic divisions can be included.
As well as topics relating to supplies, markets, policies, funding, idea development, etc. etc.

This should be hosted by a collaboration of Universities. A future way to direct connect universities and farming/food systems

For now I’ll not go on further with more concept details. But keep it simple and ask for basic concept thoughts.

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Hi Ed,

This is exactly our vision for https://farmpep.net We will be launching our development site this month, the idea is that anyone can connect any content to any Topic, and Stewards help marshall the key messages for each Topic.

We could consider adding phppp to this in future, or our developer suggests Discourse could be another option.

Would be pleased to discuss in detail with you.

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I fully support the concept of a research forum but would argue for some form of adjudication to provide confidence in the conclusions. Farmers and the wider industry are vital components in providing the ideas for advancement but it is just as important that the concepts are tested using scientific method and consideration by those with a deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved than I have.

There is perhaps an increasing tendency to accept medieval magic as either truth or fake news without hard evidence for either. Verification of the validity of legitimate beliefs is important to progress and promulgation of misleading information is a high risk in open forums. At the very least there should be a means of rating proposals and responses (or responders) such as used in IT forums.

A detail but use of real names should be essential…

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Our knowledge exchange web platform is now online at www.farmpep.net. You can join up at Create new account | Farm PEP then add your organisation and any projects, connected to Topics.

You can also add Topics, and let me know if you would be interested in Stewarding any Topics.

Very interested in your feedback!

While I understand your approach, it’s too top down imho and from a farmers perspective. Time will tell how well this approach will work.

The aim is to very much be bottom up… encouraging people to share their experiences and distil best practice together… But we don’t have the farmer community on board yet … and I don’t think we will get farmer users and views until we have some useful content for them to visit.

How would you make it feel more bottom-up?

Dr. Kindred, you are coming from the inputs industry, chem., biotech etc. I’m coming from the farmers who have worked on a biological approach to farming for many decades. In the US farmers at scale using the 5 principles of soil/ecosystem health from nature + context. In US now called Regenerative Ag… We even use a completely different approach to the traditional chem soil test, the most popular now is the Haney Soil Test. The new science used is understanding the biome functioning of plants, soils and farm ecosystems. This approach is proving very successful with farmers at scale. We had a Regen. farmer break his state record for soybean yield last harvest. The leading regen. farmer based consulting group last season was direct consulting the transition of 20+ million acres. This approach is also now beginning to be implemented on smallholder farmers in the global south. Then providing a farmer to farmer networking platform empowers farmers to implement into their local context. There is still need for some of what a company like yours offers for those transitioning to regen., there is also a paradigm shift happening that should and is beginning to be realized. How ADAS will handle this fiture I’m not sure, it’s complicated. The Bayer, Syngenta, Corteva, Yara etc. are in a similar situation.
best regards,
Ed
Trying to post one of my youtube playlists but this site only showing the top video for some reason? Ok if you click the 3 lines at top of video pic. it then shows the list of 20 videos. This is the kind of fundamental content we share.

Hi Ed,

I am interested in sharing and distilling knowledge - i don’t really care where it comes from so long as it is evidence based. My hope is that Farm-PEP can become a place to discuss exactly the issues that you are talking about - getting to the details and the connections between Topics, and ultimately to what works where. Anyone can create Topics, post content and add Groups. It is open to all - not an echo chamber.

I’ve added your Youtube Channel to the PEP site as a post connected to Topics ‘Regenerative Agriculture’ and ‘Soil Health’ - sorry this site won’t let me post the link. Let me know if I have affiliations wrong. If you register to the site you can manage this Group and edit to say what you want. You could add each video individually if you want as separate posts, connecting to relevant Topics, people and organisations.

Now I better understand and checked out the site. What I see the need for is an online platform for farmer to farmer discussions and problem solving and working on new ideas. Farmers traditionally have done this at coffee shops, local farmer gatherings of various types informal or by local farmer organization gatherings or 1 on 1 by phone or farm visits. The agricultural fairs have also been a traditional platform. These fairs brought farmers together and also gave them the opportunity to connect with the public. In the US cooperative extension created opportunities for farmers, academics, researchers and industry to get together.
And now with the internet and more rural farmers now having access, creates a new possible gathering discussion platform and with much broader reach.
Something like a phpbb simple but effective discussion forum like I mentioned in my original post. It could be embedded into your site.
Now some would say, how would you control disinformation? Trust, that they are smart and careful enough to figure that out. And group moderation just like any other gathering. Online if not respectful in these forums, a timeout or banned if necessary.
And realize that science and evidence evolves. For example, intensive tillage for over a century was generally considered the #1 best practice told to farmers. And recently science is now showing that in most situations it’s one of the worst practices causing all kinds of shortcomings. Why no-till has become so popular. That clean fields were encouraged and now covercropping and companion planting is proving greater benefits. Industries that support farming could efficiently learn from these conversations what farmers need in future products and research. Farmers deserve a lot more respect than they have been given in recent times. Realize it’s been farmers that have led the soil health movement for decades that is now proving so successful. While Institutions and ag industries telling us all along we were wasting our time on foolish ideas.
The Global Alliance for the Future of Food (partner of this group) did an excellent paper on “whose knowledge counts”. There is a post about it on this site.

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Thanks Ed - Agree with all you’ve written … especially about farmers being the leaders of innovation and practice change. I’ll check out the “whose knowledge counts” piece.

I assume you know about “The Farming Forum” ? - Community of > 20,000 farmers registered to discussion site with >30,000 page views per day. They have been a partner in FarmPEP and i think will be the best way to connect to the widest audience, and capture the sorts of discussions you are talking about.

Yes and it meets certain needs and interests well.
It’s limited in focus on farm practices. Especially relating with biological practices categories.

Covercropping, companion planting, soil/plant biome functioning, rotations, crop diversity, planting for beneficial insects/pollenators, soil health testing, interseeding, covercrop terminating, relay cropping, integrating grazing, composting, compost extracts/teas, epigenetics, AMP grazing, temporary fencing, water/irrigation, machinery/modifications, gps/monitoring tech., new ideas, collaboration trials/project, etc. etc.

Then there are other areas like farm processing, storage, local/direct sales, online marketing etc.
Ultimately can envision a global network of forums farmer-based off of one site. In the way facebook/twitter etc. is global for SM. And pooling in existing ones.

It’s amazing that even smallholder farms in areas of Africa, India etc. now have at least some access to internet. I’ve had them reach out to me on FB for information. They especially would greatly benefit from being connected.

Farming is so unique because it is all basically small, site specific and tends to be rural (urban gardening too needs connecting) compared to most other major industries where it can range to global corpoations. Though trends are starting to head in that direction, corporations buying up farms all over the world. A trend that is becoming very concerning imho. The UNFSS and COP not involving farmers nearly enough.