The Corona pandemic changes our lifes in many respects. Networking activities has had to be different. Not at all impossible, but different.
There is other ways to network than travelling and meeting physically. We can meet and accomplish a lot in digital ways. We can present research results, discuss and step forward. But we need some time to change and to learn.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project period for NKJ networks has previously been extended. To be able to achieve the aims of the networks and to report the activities on time, we strongly encourage our networks to arrange meetings online. We don’t want you to miss out on contacts, cooperation and new knowledge, so please take all chances there are to keep up the good work!
In the light of the travel restrictions, we suggest that networks use funding initially budgeted as travel costs, for arranging high quality online meetings, if needed. This means that networks could use funding intended for travel costs to e.g. involve consultants or facilitators to help design and arrange cutting edge digital meeting solutions.
Good luck, and please let us know about your experiences of digital meetings!
There were a huge interest in joining our seminar about the current state of knowledge on soil as a carbon sink. But we want to provide those who missed it, and those who wants to refresh the memory, the presentations from our speakers.
November 26th we met to have an overview of the state of Nordic knowledge on soil as a carbon sink. There are good conditions for Nordic cooperation due to the countries’ similar soil types, climate and policies.
But where are we at? Is there a common Nordic base in terms of knowledge? These were our speakers:
Prof emeritus Johan Bouma, board member in the European Commission’s mission in the area of Soil health and food: “Exploring the exciting potential of the Nordic countries to capture soil carbon following climate change”
Prof Katarina Hedlund, Lund University: “How to turn agriculture soils into carbon sinks”
Prof Raisa Makipää, LUKE: “Forest soils and their carbon sequestration potential”
“Globally, soil contains about three times as much organic carbon as plants and twice as much as the atmosphere” 
Increasing carbon storage in soil is proposed to be one of the most cost-effective climate measures, a measure that also has a positive impact on aspects such as biodiversity and soil fertility. The topic has gained the decision-makers’ interest and sits high on the political agenda in the Nordics. However, using soil as a carbon sink is a complex matter. Knowledge is developing at a fast pace, but several questions remain to be answered. The topic is also associated with challenges both in terms of policy development and implementation of identified methods and solutions.
The Nordic countries’ similar soil types and climate, as well as related goal formulations in terms of climate policy, do create promising conditions for increased Nordic co-operation on carbon storage in soil.
Welcome and introduction
Exploring the exciting potential of the Nordic countries to capture soil carbon following climate change – Prof emeritus Johan Bouma, board member in the European Commission’s mission in the area of Soil health and food
How to turn agriculture soils into carbon sinks – Prof Katarina Hedlund, Lund University
Forest soils and their carbon sequestration potential – Prof. Raisa Makipää, LUKE
Dialogue with key note speakers
Furthermore, please feel free to invite additional contacts you may have that would be interested in attending the seminar.
We need energy, for heating, for transports and for a lot of things in our everyday life. We need a lot of energy, and we need the energy system to be sustainable.
There is a potential for sustainable use of biomass in our Nordic countries. But there are also a lot of different and conflicting goals involved and we need to find ways through that.
The best way is to cooperate – and in the end we can possibly even export our knowledge and technology to the rest of the world.
NKJ has been part in the process to mapping this important matter, and you can read all about it in the report “Sustainable use of biomass for heating and transport fuel”. The work has been supervised by a steering group composed of Nordic Energy Research, Nordic Forest Research (SNS) and Nordic Joint Committee for Agricultural and Food Research (NKJ).
Our new BioEquality project started stage one of the work for a gender balanced, digitalised bioeconomy in the Nordic region October 12.
Based on the discussions during the project’s start-up meeting on September 24 the definition of the aim of the network was specified:
The project is aimed at students at university level (bachelor, master and doctoral level).
The the project is aimed at educations connecting forestry and agriculture.
The project focuses on the intersection between gender equality, bioeconomy and digitalisation and
shall provide a basis for students and program managers that can be used to relate to the gender issue in connection with the digitalisation of the bioeconomy.
Work package 1
Work package 1 was presented to the participants. It consists of a literature study and the job will be conducted by two coworkers at Analysys Mason in cooperation with Nordic Forest Research (SNS). The focus areas digitalisation, bioeconomy and gender will be studied in pairs.
In December the network will have a say on the result before the work finished and the result is presented.
The work goes on
Work package 2 consists of norm-critical dialogues about the role of digitalisation for gender equality. Work package 3 consists of three forums for academia and business where they will discuss how the education of young academics can integrate the gender perspective with digitalisation of bioeconomy.
The project is expected to provide a deeper understanding of how the gender equality perspective can be integrated among both academia and business, as well as giving us a method manual for a more equal everyday life for the future employees in the bioeconomy.
Now, the platform hosting the information about all of these seeds is updated. From the 3rd of July, Nordic Baltic Genebanks Information System (GENBIS) replaces the previous system SESTO. GENBIS will be hosted by NordGen but also used by the national genebanks in all the Nordic and Baltic countries.
The heart of the genebank
The system containing the information about all the germplasms is the heart of every gene bank. It contains data about the seed samples and plants, their collection sites, characteristics and amount of seeds, to name a few.
– Without the information in the database, we wouldn’t be able to keep the plant collection alive or conduct research with it. To have a user-friendly, reliable and up-to-date information system is thereby vital to make use of the Nordic seed collection to secure our agriculture for the future”, says Lise Lykke Steffensen, executive director at NordGen.
Hard to find staff
The previous information system, SESTO, was developed in 2002 and has since then been used by genebanks in the Nordic and Baltic countries as well as genebanks in different countries in the south of Africa. But the code it was written in has become obsolete and it is difficult to find personnel confident in working with it. That’s why it was decided, after a thorough examination, that all the information would be transferred to the international platform GRIN-Global, well-known in the genebank community. SESTO’s successor has been given the name Nordic Baltic Genebanks Information System (GENBIS).
– GENBIS is a continuation on the close collaboration the Nordic and Baltic countries have had for a long time in the area of plant genetic resources. This new information system will lead to an improvement of the services we can offer, both internally and externally, when it comes to information about the genetic resources we need for developing agricultural solutions for the future”, says Külli Annamaa, head of the Estonian Genebank.
GENBIS will be used internally for genebank work, but also as an open information system available for researchers, plant breeders and other stakeholders who want to browse and order material stored in the genebanks. GENBIS can be visited at www.nordic-baltic-genebanks.org. Here, you can also find user manuals.
NKJ will contribute to further Nordic cooperation through the new research networks that was granted funding at the board meeting in June. We hope your cooperation will be really fruitful, and NKJ would like to take part in it in different ways.
We received many applications for the call for networks in agriculture and climate. Here is the list of those who were granted funding:
In the call in plant health and alternative protein sources, we received fewer applications. We believe that part of the explanation may be that the Corona pandemic had reached the Nordic region when the call was opened – it is meetings between people that we want to achieve! But it doesn’t have to be physical meetings, so we hope you will be able to conduct all the activities planned for.
These networks have applied for and received funding from us:
According to a study from Stanford University in 2017, 39% of all couples found their partners on the internet, and only 20% “through friends”. What works for people who search for love should also work for those looking for a research collaborator. And in an ongoing pandemic, the internet is more or less the only way of finding that partner. It was therefore natural for SNS and NKJ to make the 2020 Matchmaking Day digital.
Text and photo: Mats Hannerz, Silvinformation
Matchmaking Day is a forum where SNS (Nordic Forest Research) and NKJ (Nordic Joint Committee for Agricultural and Food Research) invite researchers and stakeholders from a broad spectrum of disciplines to identify possible partners and ideas for cooperation. The forum, which has been held almost annually since 2015, was switched this year to a digital platform instead of the usual mingling in person.
Focus on reindeer husbandry
The theme of the Matchmaking Day on August 25 was Reindeer husbandry in the arctic bioeconomy. The original intention was to gather potential delegates at a meeting in Inari, Finland in May 2020. But – the corona epidemic made it impossible.
– We talked a lot about a plan B, says SNS’ secretary Mimmi Blomquist, but we soon realised that the pandemic would continue for a long time, so simply postponing the physical meeting was not an option.
Instead, the meeting was held digitally, led by the facilitator Malin von Essen. Altogether 48 people were present for the full-day event.
The meeting was conducted using the Zoom platform, one of several online meeting tools. Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other services have seen an explosion in users since the pandemic forced people to work from home and avoid travelling. In just the first week from 11-18 March, Teams attracted 12 million new users, and Zoom use increased by 169% during the first months of the year.
– There are hundreds of thousands of people who are now learning how to use video conferencing services in an effective way. The changes we have been talking about for 20 years have now been implemented at record speed, says Malin von Essen.
A new reality
In her business, she moderates and organises meetings and workshops with the aim of inspiring people and taking the results back to their organisations. The meetings are normally physical, but in 2020 she had to rethink the situation.
– We carried out several digital workshops during the spring, and we have learnt a lot about the technique and how to use the potential of the services to engage participants, she says.
The Matchmaking Day was organised as a traditional meeting with lectures, but also with several shorter workshops in smaller groups. The digital platform Zoom facilitates flexible group meetings. In “break-out rooms”, participants with a common research interest could discuss cooperation in a group size allowing more intimate discussions, and the results could be presented later to the entire audience.
– Since we have chat functions and can also assemble suggestions using the menti.com tool, everyone can make their voice heard. And afterwards, other people can look at the recorded presentations and the results of the discussions, all being posted on the SNS’ website.
Content with the outcome
Mimmi Blomquist at SNS was impressed with how well the meeting worked out.
– Of course, we need to meet in person, but this is definitely an option that our research networks could use for many of their workshops. SNS and NKJ provide financial support to research networks with partners from all the Nordic countries, and also neighbouring countries. So, partners are often located thousands of kilometres apart, and we can save lots of travel costs and reduce climate impact by using these digital services, she says.
Advices for your coming digital meetings
It is easy to start a video conference, and most researchers and business people are already used to them, but to make the meetings effective, Malin von Essen has some advice:
Be clear about your aim and goal – why is the meeting needed and what output do you expect? Then start to think of the content.
Before the meeting is live, become familiar with all the functions in the digital platform. Conduct a test meeting with some friends.
Ensure that the meeting will function technically. Not all participants are equally comfortable, encourage them to test the technique in advance. Tell the participants to use a headset and web camera, and to avoid distracting surroundings or strong backlight.
Schedule breaks in the programme. It is better to have several short breaks than one long one.
Nordic funding opportunities in reindeer research:
The Nordic Committee for Agricultural and Food Research (NKJ) and Nordic Forest Research (SNS) is calling for networks that will strengthen co-operation in reindeer husbandry research in the Nordic region. The applicant must be a researcher or communicator at a research institution. The network must include researchers from at least three Nordic countries.
SNS is calling for networks exploring forests and forestry in relation to reindeer husbandry. The application deadline is September 21, 2020. Apply for SNS networks here!
NKJ prioritises networks focusing on reindeer husbandry in relation to climate change and land-use change, but networks that focus on other aspects of reindeer husbandry are also encouraged to apply. The application deadline is November 20, 2020. Apply NKJ networks here!
SEE THE PRESENTATIONS:
Morten Tryland, professor in veterinary medicine, infection biology at UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø
After a period of clinical veterinary practice, he transitioned to research and has spent most of his research career investigating infectious diseases in arctic wildlife and semi-domesticated reindeer, in close cooperation with Fennoscandian research groups and reindeer herders.
Morten told us about reindeer health and supplementary feeding, which is a quite complex issue.
The aim of the call is to promote Nordic collaboration between researchers in reindeer husbandry by networking activities including workshops, conferences and seminars. Deadline for application submission is November 20th, 2020 at 24:00 CET.
Focus areas of the call:
Reindeer husbandry and climate change adaptation
Reindeer husbandry and land-use change
Other aspects of reindeer husbandry
Reindeer husbandry is a traditional source of livelihood in the Nordic countries, which has adapted to changes in the economy and societal changes in general. Reindeer husbandry is an important part of the bioeconomy in the Nordic Arctic region, as well as an important part of Sami culture. It is important for food supply, and also contributes to tourism and other economic activities related to reindeer husbandry.
NKJ sees the need for more knowledge and increased cooperation on the impact and consequences of climate change and land-use change on the future of reindeer husbandry and is therefore calling for research networks on these topics.
Overall scope of the call
Successful applicants may receive funds from NKJ of up to 300 000 SEK, covering at most 50% of the total budget for the network. Participants in submitted networks should represent at least three countries consisting of three research institutions in the Nordic* region.
Network outputs should be useful for the Nordic community and should include knowledge exchange across national borders through e.g. arranging workshops, seminars, scientific meetings or open conferences. Networks could also produce peer-reviewed scientific papers, design policy recommendations based on research findings, write large-scale research funding applications, and create or maintain databases or websites.
* Nordic is defined as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the autonomous areas of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and the Åland Islands.
Reindeer husbandry and climate change adaptation
Reindeer husbandry is primarily based on the use of pastures all year and is therefore particularly vulnerable to climate change. The availability of pastures during winter seasons, and the quality of pastures, will be changing with variations in temperature. Climate change may bring new challenges to reindeer health, such as new types of diseases or intensified outbreaks of existing diseases.
Reindeer husbandry and land-use change
Reindeer pasture areas are continuously under pressure from other sectors and economic interests. Land-use changes influence the patterns of movement of the reindeer, and the availability of the traditional pastures. Increasing populations of predatory animals is also challenging the traditional use of the pasture areas.