Submitted by Malu on Thu, 06/02/2022 - 12:23




This manifesto outlines how OFE can contribute to innovation for agri-food systems globally, defining a vision for the agricultural knowledge sector, exploring opportunities and benefits, as well as outlining the challenges and barriers, for the responsible development of OFE science and practice.

The manifesto stemmed from #OFE2021, the 1st International Conference on Farmer-centric On-Farm Experimentation

Citation: #OFE2021 (2022) The 2021 OFE manifesto for agricultural innovation. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Farmer-centric On-Farm Experimentation (#OFE2021),Montpellier, 12-15 Oct 2021, pp. 21-27, DOI: 10.17180/NP12-JB28.




OFE is an innovation process that brings agricultural stakeholders together around mutually beneficial experimentation to support farmers’ own management decisions, addressing complexity and uncertainty through joint exploration embedded in real-world farm management as a means to bridge sources of knowledge and foster open innovation.

The OFE process is systemic and adaptable, implemented by people in varied ways according to 6 guiding principles:


1. FARMER-CENTRIC   Farmers fuel the research process             

2. REAL SYSTEMS      Farm own management and scales

3. EVIDENCE-DRIVEN     Insights are anchored in data

4. SPECIALIST-ENABLED    Different expertise add value

5. CO-LEARNING     Emphasis on engaging by sharing

6. SCALABLE        Social and analytical mechanisms



A globally connected, agile and responsible OFE community that plays a significant role in agricultural innovation by

Enabling locally relevant public-private collaborations

Mainstreaming system thinking and the production of co-created knowledge

Scaling evidence-based decisions throughout agricultural food systems


Further on the OFE definition, emergence and collective thoughts for action:

Lacoste M., Cook S., McNee M., Gale D., Ingram J., Bellon-Maurel V., MacMillan T., Sylvester-Bradley R., Kindred D., Bramley R., Tremblay N., Longchamps L., Thompson L., Ruiz R., Garcia F., Maxwell B., Griffin T., Oberthür, R., Huyghe C., Zhang W. McNamara J. and Hall A. (2022) On-Farm Experimentation to transform global agriculture. Nature Food, 3(1), 11-18


Unlocking new value as driver of agricultural innovation by exploring OFE applications and outcomes:

Human and social capital development

- Meaningful and interconnected embodied learning through activities and related training

Co-creation of endogenous knowledge

- New knowledge that is locally relevant and meaningful to those first concerned, and others

Scaling of insights

- Secondary learning from solutions found in different contexts, using further analytics and social learning, through replications, adaptation, institutional and cultural change.

Technological and identity capitals

- Increased technology use, from the humble hoe to digital tools

- Increased added value from local origin/traceability/quality

Data-driven engagement

- Practical action research

- Increased networking, notably digitally – though not only

Effective adaptive processes

- New decentralised practice for research and innovation

- Improved institutional practice

- Open innovation principles of flexibility, creativity and agility

Efficient resource use

- Savings through productivity, value-chain integration, control response to insight

Ethical management

- People and environmental protection e.g. equity & litigation

- IP protection, capture and distribution

Social license

- Constructive dialogue between opponents in food production and innovation

- Renewed societal roles:

     for farmers, of not only producing agricultural products and environmental stewardship but also data and innovation;

     for agronomists, of not only providing knowledge but also engagement and linkages;

     for technologists and service providers, of not only innovating but also co-innovating;

     for deciders, of not only presiding but also participating

System thinking as engine for change

- Complexity management becoming business-as-usual, including mainstreaming Innovation Ecosystems concepts





Fragmentation of knowledge and research sectors worldwide

- Disconnected and self-maintaining scientific communities of thought and practice through enduring disciplinary traditions and specialisation: Precision Agriculture, Living Labs, Farmer Participatory Research, Participatory Local Development, Open Innovation, Agricultural Innovation Systems, Farming System Research…

- Insufficient braiding of knowledge and practice between institutional science and practitioners: farmer associations, cooperatives, social agricultural movements, start-ups…

Lack of methodologies

- Complexity of the multi-facetted OFE processes

- Diversity of the application of the OFE principles

- Scaling challenges

- Challenges of the marginal (resource poor) environments

- Limited acceptance for multi-level and long-term horizons

Technology barriers

- Lack of appropriate equipment to set up efficient OFE schemes



Regulatory and institutional barriers

- Difficulty to experiment with regard to current legislation

- Lack of institutional recognition and subsequent support and incentive


Limited capacity and need for advocacy

- Lack of facilitators, innovation brokers, intermediaries

- Low policy-maker involvement

- Lack of OFE awareness, education, dissemination





Global collaboration, openness and knowledge-sharing

Establishment of the ‘OFE sciences’

Positive environmental and occupational impacts

Harmonised policies and regulations

Coordinated efforts and investments





Sector mapping

- OFE world activities: groups, reach and diversity

- OFE practices: trends and evolution


OFE coalitions 

- Safe environments enabling long-term funding


Global OFE portal

- Promote and connect OFE activities; harness the motivations of farmers and others; collect ideas and momentums; form the basis for data platforms

- Support bottom-up learning mechanisms: compiling resources,  crowd sourcing ideas, training, contacts



Enabling multi-level policies & finance


- Institutional: regional, national, EU/federal

- Industry: Multi-party Innovation Ecosystem Platforms

- Recruitment of large organisations and networks to secure critical mass funding


OFE training course & certificates


- Building incentives and recognition

- Emphasis on ‘soft’ skills to bridge specialists and technologies

Scientific insight building

- Incremental: from local insights to progressing the science, and vice versa

- Transformational: actively valuing different types and sources of knowledge



Institutional adoption and changed research practices

- Toward farmer-centric, digitally enabled scaling; open innovation, real field designs; etc

- Partnerships with existing forms of experimentation and networks

Value chain expansion


- Shift from focus on production to entire value chains and systems

Global collaborative experimentation platform

- Developing usable tools to get the processes started on the ground

- Data sharing

- Data analysis platform


Contacts:[at];[at]; veronique.bellon[at]