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The topic of the second edition was Innovations in Agriculture

Open Science Forum, an initiative of the CAP: Science Talks campaign, held its second edition as part of the National Youth Forum “Science, Technology, Innovations, Business”, organized by Association Science and Technology Unions and Science and Technology House Plovdiv in collaboration with Evrika Foundation. Discussants on the topic of Innovations in Agriculture were professor Stefka Atanasova, Trakia University Stara Zagora, Petya Ivanova, Association of Bulgarian No-Tillers and Elena Boevska from the hi-tech company Predistic Ltd.

The discussion covered three thematic areas where new approaches in agriculture are implemented that add new value for the farmers and the public alike both economically and environmentally: agroforestry, conservation agriculture and precision agriculture.

The main focus were the benefits that innovations bring to the farmers and the environment, their potential to make a true change in the way the Bulgarian agriculture functions and the role of science and research in the process.

Professor Atanasova explained the role and position of the agroforestry systems in agricultural production and the benefits they provide to the environment, the biodiversity and the prevention of disasters such as floods. She underscored that the barriers to agroforestry in Bulgaria are related to several main factors: missing knowledge and experience in this field; uncertainty about the impact of agroforestry practices on the farms’ profitability and not being aware of the opportunities to get environment-related compensations and environmental payments. In order to overcome the barriers, Trakia University together with 13 other organisations from various European states are working on European project REFOREST, funded by the EU research programme Horizon which will build a network of farmers and experts where best practice will be exchanged and experience will be shared.

Petya Ivanova from the Association of Bulgarian No-Tillers pointed out that agroforestry and conservation agriculture apply the same approach and that science in Bulgaria is undertaking the necessary steps to support the farmers in their transformation to conservation agriculture as an innovative and management practice. She focused the attention on the central role of the farmer in the process and their active involvement in the building, integration, implementation and development of this model since the farmer is the true manager in it. Petya Ivanova explained that farmers should start taking complex decisions to be able to adapt to and generate conservation farming, which is radically different from the linear approach used in the conventional agriculture.

Elena Boevska from Predistic explained that overcoming the current challenges such as the growing food prices and the need to increase the production volumes cannot be solved with traditional methods of land tilling and livestock farming. She presented the advantages that automation and digitalization bring to the producers, the consumer and the environment. Elena Boevska emphasized that these technologies are still penetrating slowly the Bulgarian agricultural practice and the potential for their deployment is enormous.

The discussion was held and streamed online. Its recording can be watched at Facebook page of the campaign.