National Rural Networks (NRNs) during their recent meeting in Austria continued to explore networking’s role in implementing Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS). Austria is home to many good examples of AKIS initiatives including an Operational Group project promoting circular economy approaches on livestock farms.
Results from this sustainable agriculture project contribute to the Farm to Fork strategy aims and illustrate the benefits of adopting agro-ecology techniques that apply evidenced-based solutions. The Austrian Operational Group addressed modernisation challenges concerning the use of agricultural residues to achieve better nutrient and humus efficiency. A trend away from traditional extensive livestock farming towards more specialised systems had led many Austrian farms to become reliant on external inputs and ‘closed nutrient cycles’ were now less common in the project’s target group.
Project successes included demonstrating how farmers can develop their own nutrient cycles and reduce production costs through circular use of waste or by-products. This involved testing cooperative methods between farms for calculating nutrient balances, digestate exchange, composting actions, CO2 emissions, and more. Further details are available on the ENRD website.