Farmers must continuously adapt production and management systems in order to maintain and enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of their businesses. The development and implementation of innovations require both information and the farmers’ willingness to change daily work routines. Learning and knowledge transfer among farmers, technology developers, experts and university teams ensure the development and application of innovative ideas which are crucial for a sustainable growth in food (and non-food) production. The paper presents results from three transdisciplinary research projects that are part of a wider initiative aimed at establishing a farmer-university network in the north-east of Germany where economic and farming conditions are unfavourable. A team from Eberswalde University facilitates the network. The partners in the network are agricultural farms, agricultural organisations of Berlin-Brandenburg and federal research institutes. The results obtained to date indicate that lifelong learning approaches are promising tools to foster agricultural innovations and thus contribute to the resilience of the agricultural sector. Lifelong learning helps to engage with farmers who are not normally reached. The success of joint learning projects depends among other factors on the relevance and quality of offers, professional management of the network and facilitation of activities. Farmer-university networks function effectively if all involved see themselves and work together as equal partners.


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