We've been trying to more clearly & simply define what Farm-PEP is, to get to a clear value proposition of why users should engage.
What do you think of the statement below?
“The platform for finding and sharing agricultural knowledge”
Farm-PEP connects people, projects, organisations and resources across agriculture to generate, share and distill knowledge that is relevant and trusted
Farm-PEP will be the place to.
- Find what’s known in farming
- Share what you know and what you are doing
- Connect with other practitioners, projects & organisations
Join Farm-PEP to share your experiences, connect with others, engage with projects, shape knowledge and learn together.
Our community of independent Stewards will collate, validate and summarise current information for the main farming Topics. Everything in Farm-PEP can be rated, discussed & challenged, so that our combined knowledge continually improves.
If you are:
- A farmer, join Farm-PEP to find the ‘best practice’ answers to your questions, share your experiences and learn from others to improve your performance
- An advisor, join Farm-PEP to find out what’s going on in topics you are interested in, and engage with others to distill the knowledge of what works in your situation.
- A researcher, join Farm-PEP to tell people what you are doing, engage practitioners & collaborators, receive feedback and contribute to the distillation and sharing of knowledge
- A company or organisation, join Farm-PEP to tell people about your organization, products & projects, and to connect and be seen with relevant Topics, people and pages
How it works
Farm-PEP is open to any one and free to individuals. Any one can post anything as a Page, so long as they abide by the rules and ethos of the PEP community. The knowledge summarised in Topics will be moderated by Stewards employed by Farm-PEP. Our vision for PEP is long term, ultimately being sustained by funding from companies & organisations paying for their presence on Farm-PEP. Funding will be transparent and all revenues will go to the continued management and development of PEP. Content from companies and non-independent sources will be clearly marked. The content of Topics will be entirely independent of commercial interests.
How its funded
Organisations are invited to join Farm-PEP for a modest fee to have their organisation, people, products & projects seen & connected.
The initial web architecture is funded by an ADAS led Innovate UK project, including partners Agri-techE, CCRI, Innovative Farmers, The Farming Forum. For the initial stages we are looking for sponsorship from organisations to help support the development of content over the first six months, until sufficient reach & traffic is created for PEP to become self-sustaining from a broad customer base of companies.
Ultimately we aim for Farm-PEP to become a platform that supports on-farm research as well as knowledge sharing. Farm-PEP is included in AHDB's plans for the development of a 'What Works for Agriculture' centre.
Please let me know what you think of this, and please suggest any improvements - you can use the comments box below if you log in. Thanks!
I think the feedback we've had is that just providing a space for 'whats new' isn't enough. There are plenty of magazines, websites & newsletters that already provide 'what's new' and I don't think Farm-PEP is about news - its a more permanent collation of information around a Topic that we are providing. I think we can go to giving a summary of 'whats known' for each Topic ... however, it will need to be clear that this is not definitive and will continually evolve. It will be more like a Wikipedia entry in its authority, rather than a definitive official statement from AHDB or Defra... There is a balance we will need to strike between 'good enough' and fully verified & validated ... I think the wider Farm-PEP community will play a role in that validation.
I've edited the main text to reflect your improvements. Copied the original text below for reference.
"Find and share relevant & trusted info for farming”
Farm-PEP will be the place to find what’s known across the breadth of farming topics, to share what you know and what you are doing, to connect with others and to engage with what’s going on.
- Find what’s known in farming
- Share what you know and what you are doing
- Connect with other practitioners, projects & organisations
Farm-PEP connects people, projects, organisations and resources across agriculture to generate, share and distill knowledge that is relevant and trusted. Join Farm-PEP to share your experiences, connect with others, engage with projects, shape knowledge and learn together.
“The platform for sharing agricultural knowledge”
Farm-PEP connects the experiences shared by practitioners with the activities and outputs of research and industry. For each farming Topic it provides a window into who is doing what. Our community of Stewards will summarise what’s known in each topic, providing trusted guidance on ‘Best Practice’ and pointing to useful further information. Everything in Farm-PEP can be rated, discussed & challenged, so that our combined knowledge continually improves.
If you are:
- A company or organisation, join Farm-PEP to tell people about your organization, products & projects, and to connect with relevant Topics, people and pages
I am greatly in favour of the concept. It would be worth ensuring that aliases could not be used (or real names known to the moderator where off-record comments were of value), that moderation was active (approved before posting publicly?) and there was engagement with a full range of experts. I would like to see input from outside of the industry particularly for some types of technology if possible. It would be useful to give as much thought as possible to how the interplay was classified so it may be found later. Some of the IT programming help forums are good examples of how value may be supplied and assistance ranked. I think it will be hard work but could be really worthwhile.
We've had queries questioning the business model of Farm-PEP, which I've tried to answer below:
Farm-PEP is open to any one and free to individuals. Organisations can pay to have a presence on Farm-PEP, to enable people to connect with what they are doing, their staff, their products and their projects. Organisations pages on Farm-PEP will be analagous to having a stand at an agricultural show. These modest payments from organisations will be what makes Farm-PEP work - All funds into Farm-PEP will be used exclusively for the management and development of Farm-PEP.
Ultimately we aim for Farm-PEP to have enough users and traffic for organisations to invest in pages on Farm-PEP on purely commercial grounds, to connect with their customers and stakeholders to get their messages out. Initially though we recognise that a leap of faith will be required, so we are looking for founding sponsors to commit to supporting Farm-PEP through its first year because they believe in the vision and the industry need, not just a hard nosed commercial return.
Until February 2022 organisations will be able to join PEP for free for the first six months - they will pay from Sept 2022. After 1 March 2022 new organisations will have to pay. The pricing structure will be based on organisation size - we plan for it to be low enough to not be a serious barrier to engagement.
There will be no advertising on Farm-PEP, and users details will not be used or sold for direct marketing purposes. Other business models will be developed in the longer term, for example making services available to Farm-PEP users, either individually or to Project groups
I'm posting some really useful comments from Liz Tomkinson at The Ad Plain (www.theadplain.com) below with permission - many thanks to Liz:
With regards to making it into organisations’ marketing plans and schedules, we would suggest for you to:
- Define audience & have a decent reach.
- Commit to promoting PEP to ensure awareness and growth of the community + content.
- Clearly demonstrate USPs to make it onto marketing schedules. PEP will be competing for budget vs all of the established media players.
- Ensure that the moderators / stewards avidly and proactively protect the environment & quality of content.
- Companies/organisations are listed as being able to post info on company/products etc. PEP should ensure that the environment doesn’t become over-run with product pushing, so distracting from & undermining the more independent content.
- Strike a balance between “Jack of all trades” & “One trick pony” – the content needs to be broad to appeal widely, however there needs to be the depth of content for each category. Promotion will be important to raise awareness in order to achieve this.
- Regarding this approach: “Until February 2022 organisations will be able to join PEP for free for the first six months - they will pay from Sept 2022. After 1 March 2022 new organisations will have to pay. The pricing structure will be based on organisation size - we plan for it to be low enough to not be a serious barrier to engagement.” PEP will need to ensure sufficient investment promoting traffic, so that companies see the value in committing and paying from Sept 2022.
- The rate proposition needs to stack up competitively versus the wider media environment.
It is good to see the Farm PEP project evolving and coming together.
My two main concerns are
- The business model is going to rely on commercial companies and it is going to be critical to get the balance right for a commercial hard sell by those companies to justify their cash and keeping the content independent enough not to be seen to be favouring one company over another. How are you going to manage a situation where a sponsor company is clearly promoting a product and service that industry knows isn’t the best?
- There is a lot of good technical feed via Twitter and Linkedin, if you follow the right people. How are you going to change the mindset of a busy farmers that Farm PEP isn’t just another data source to log into and spend time reading when all the information someone wants can be seen easily and quickly on Twitter/Linkedin. Is there an opportunity to include Twitter /Linkedin feeds from reliable contributors to the Farm PEP site to keep it live.
Hope this helps,
Thanks Keith, these are really good points. My responses below:
1. We need to be really clear that what we write in Topics is not influenced by commercial funding. However the content that companies post will be entirely up to them … but we need to be very clear that any content on these pages is commercial and not independently supported by PEP – we will need to think through carefully what this looks like in terms of page design. Also all content can be discussed and challenged by the community … so I’m hoping we can create a culture where if outlandish claims are made then farmers/ advisors/ researchers/ anyone would challenge them on the page.
2. Agree there is lots of good technical info from twitter & LinkedIn etc … I think we need to utilise this rather than try to compete with it. I don’t think that Farm-PEP is about ‘news’ – we don’t necessarily need users to be logging in every day – its more that they can find the info on Farm-PEP when they want to. The problem with twitter and Linkedin etc is that the information and discussion is lost after a few hours / days / weeks. By linking content to Topics we can ensure that it is always findable – so if a good discussion gets going on twitter around a particular issue, someone can create a page on Farm-PEP that links to that discussion and connects it to the relevant Topics (and people or organisations & projects etc). Similarly, when useful new content is put on Farm-PEP then that page can be tweeted or shared on LinkedIn, TFF etc by anyone … so we don’t expect the content to be mostly accessed by people coming to PEP specifically ... but when they do come they should be able to see and access other relevant info that will be of interest to them.
I am uneasy about commercial companies having open access to post what they want – the problem is that any small print along the lines of “Farm PEP does not condone postings from commercial companies” will be lost in the T&Cs and they will just see the adverts and think the site content is too commercially biased. . If you aren’t careful you are going to undervalue the truly independent information by too many commercial postings. Having said that, I understand your dilemma of trying to secure income. I think a farmer subscription to the service is not out of the question, - if the content is good, people will pay for it.
I agree we will need to manage this very carefully ... and we need to think through the design to try to make a clear distinction between 'Pages' that contains info from anyone and 'Topics' that we keep more control of.
Good to see this taking shape, and that so many existing initiatives are already involved. Farm-PEP seems to be a really similar proposition to EFI, so the conversation about how they fit/which has strongest legs is particularly important.
Indeed, honestly, the proposition looks like it partially competes with what some of the partners already do - doing some of the same things but with a somewhat different scope/mix/emphasis. I remember from the experience of previous similar situations that people tend to be really polite about that kind of thing - after all, most are mission-focused organisations and open to the idea they haven't got it all taped. But then understandably, when it comes to the crunch, they may prove a little lukewarm when it comes to backing their new competitor. As Farm-PEP will only be really useful if it helps simplify the KE landscape rather than fragmenting further, it needs that backing from existing KE initiatives and networks to really fly - a version that is commercially viable but doesn't prove a one-stop-shop wouldn't be worth it. So while I know you'll be having conversations with all these overlapping initiatives already, it may be worth doubling down on that - e.g. having a third party mediate meetings with each of the partners/supporters that are actually also competitors, to get the potential sticking points out in the open and check they can be properly addressed. The reaction to Farm-PEP from partners already involved in KE feels like it is currently a bit 'Erm, OK...', whereas it needs to be more 'Woohoo, yes please!' to thrive. Though that's just my sense of it, not based on anything empirical, so I may be wrong.
I really like the analogy you've made with agricultural shows. I wonder if taking that further could help to build a sense of what Farm-PEP would feel like, how to make it really distinctive and how the model would work. I found it helpful to imagine it as an 'always on' farmer show or conference (a bit like Groundswell, though wider scope, but 24/7 every day). As well as the point you've made about this showing the level of sponsorship that would be needed and might be available, it suggests that:
- People could be persuaded to put free time into preparing and curating content if the audience is right, just as they do for sessions at events, whether that's to organise, chair or speak. The formats could obviously be different but the basic deal - that it is worth putting time into preparing something to spec to reach this audience - could be similar.
- It should be feasible to have commercial sponsorship that is clearly demarcated, as you set out, that doesn't cloud or skew good quality content. A balance of sponsor interests is clearly important to managing risk on this count.
- You could host virtual events seamlessly to drive new content, sponsors and audience.
This way of thinking about it might also help make it engaging, and feel like something worth paying for. I know users will basically want to find out useful stuff with as little hassle as possible, but making it a bit fun surely helps and stops it feeling like a chore. The ag show idea might help gamify it a bit. You could have a map of the imaginary site that helps you navigate the themes and types of content, to find what you want. There could be a sponsors' hall, bar area (maybe a bit like houseparty) etc. And being 24-hour, there'll be folk visiting from different time zones that you overlap with. But maybe I'm getting carried away...
Tom these are really insightful and useful points. I totally agree that we need buy in across the industry, so we need to find the incentives for people to engage, and ensure that PEP is always supporting other initiatives rather than competing with them. I really like your idea of gamifying the Ag Show idea - agree there always needs to be a bit of fun!