The Institute for Organic Farming and Agriculture Luxembourg (IBLA) scattered its seeds and guides and scouts from all around the globe attended the harvest.
Those who organize a workshop put some thought into it beforehand; they prepare the agenda, find an event spaces, possibly provide pencils and paper, and then away they go … This preparation took a tremendous amount of time at the IBLA. For the organizational aspects, the IBLA team was relying on a helping hand from outside – provided by Mother Nature. And She refuses to be hurried.
“Go Crop Research: Field Research in Agriculture“ was the name of the workshop that IBLA Director Stéphanie Zimmer and her colleagues set up last summer. Agricultural crops primarily depend on one thing: seeds. So, on the Kirchberg at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, various crops were sown, small-scale field tests conducted and demo areas laid out.
Getting to know an agricultural researcher’s work first-hand
Then, six months later, harvest time arrived. During the “Go Urban” guide and scout camp that settled on the Kirchberg from 18 to 28 July, Luxembourg and foreign guides and scouts pitched their tents and then selected an event from the agenda. The Go Crop Research workshop was one of the options.
Here, participants were first of all instructed on the importance of carefully selected crop rotation in a field. Then, the youngsters became acquainted with an agricultural researcher’s work first-hand, determining the most suitable winter wheat variety for the location. During the final part of the one-day workshop, the guides and scouts dealt with legumes. These included, for instance, peas, which establish a symbiotic association with nodule bacteria in order to absorb nitrogen from the air.
Taking a keen interest in agricultural research
The young workshop participants learned how important legumes are to crop rotation. During a second workshop, the IBLA and the guides and scouts dealt with the earthworm and its importance to soil fertility.
The aim of the project, which is sponsored by the FNR as part of its PSP Classic programme, was to explain in more detail to the 14- to 23-year-olds the key aspects of research into crop rotation systems. In this way, they can learn how important crop rotation is to soil and water protection and to the production of our daily food supplies. Furthermore, the IBLA team was of course seeking to awaken an interest in agricultural research among the participants overall. Stéphanie Zimmer is convinced that both their aims have been achieved.
Food for thought provided over the long term
“Many participants who were perhaps a little sceptical at first found it all very rewarding later on”, confirmed the IBLA Director, referring to the evaluation forms that the guides and scouts completed after the workshop. “I’ve learned more than I thought I would”, wrote one 17-year-old scout on his form. Another participant realized that there’s more to being a farmer than just hard work, and that you really have to understand the work you’re doing as well.
“I think both workshops provided food for thought over the long term”, said Stéphanie Zimmer in summing up. “As researchers, however, it wasn’t always easy to avoid using specialized terms”, she admitted. Some of the youngsters would have found it difficult to understand such terms. “This shows that, to a certain extent, we’re too deeply engrossed in our specialist area.”