We held an insightful meeting this morning with a small group of farmers and advisors to discuss what they would like Farm-PEP to be.
This has led us to rethink some of our approaches and our priorities. The clear steer is that the crucial gap is in having a central point to easily access trusted co-ordinated knowledge that is relevant on farm.
We therefore need to think hard about how Farm-PEP should interact with National Libraries for Agrifood and with the proposed What Works centre. There are wider issues around embedding farmers, advisors, researchers and journalists in determining messages and 'facts', given that what works on one farm in a given situation may not work in another. Also to deal with the inevitable uncertainties in what will work, especially when evidence is limited or being generated.
We also need to more clearly develop and communicate the key proposition for Farm-PEP. I think we know what we want PEP to become and the sorts of features and functionalities it should have, the content it should contain and the user community it serves and is dependent on, but we are not yet clear on the best route to get there and where our starting point should be.
We need to think hard about the initial motivation of users, and the use of gamification techniques to reward users for their inputs. We can see a model where the PEP user community can vote on the ideas, projects or issues that should be given attention, whether just in the rankings, or to attract internal or external funding or support. We need to respect people's time - any system needs to be easy to use and getting users to actively generate content will be difficult until there is a sufficiently large community that people feel they will be noticed.
However, we need to be careful about fully launching Farm-PEP before it is developed with sufficient content, functionality and user community to be really useful to a wider audience - there is the danger that if users see something half-baked they won't come back.
It is clear that Farm-PEP needs to be inclusive, across all sectors, all systems, all philosophies and all regions.