The CROPROTECT project and wider opportunities to improve farm productivity through web-based knowledge exchange

8Mar2016

A key global 21st century challenge is to maximize agricultural production while minimizing use of resources such as land, water, and energy to meet rising demand for produce. To meet this challenge, while also adapting to climate change, agriculture will have to become more knowledge intensive and deploy smarter farming techniques. The intention of this study was to:

  1. Highlight the opportunity for web-based knowledge exchange to increase farm productivity and thus contribute to achieving food and energy security, 
  2. Give some examples of online farming information services such as the “CROPROTECT” tool I am developing in the UK, the CABI “Plantwise” Knowledge Bank and the IRRI “Rice Doctor,” and 
  3. Consider lessons learnt so far. 

There are huge opportunities to facilitate knowledge exchange through online systems for farmers and people who advise farmers. CROPROTECT is interacting with users to determine priorities in terms of the pests, weeds, and diseases covered and is providing key information to assist with their management.

Knowledge is a critical input for farming systems. Crop protection in particular is becoming more difficult due to evolution of pest resistance and changes in legislation. Up to date information can be made rapidly available and shared online through websites and smartphone Apps. Agricultural extension no longer relies solely on physical meetings and printed documents. The capacity to share information via the Internet is tremendous with its potential to reach a wide audience in the farming community, to provide rapid updates and to interact more with the users.

However, in an era of information deluge, accessing relevant information and ensuring reliability are essential considerations. There is also a need to bring science and farming communities together to turn information into relevant farming knowledge.

Toby Bruce, Rothamsted Research in Wiley Food and Energy Security