The first SAGRIS Block Seminar on Module 1 "SMART agriculture and digitalization" was held from 14-18 June 2021 in a hybrid format due to COVID-19 constraints. The module leading universities - Novosibirsk SAU from Russia and KazNARU from Kazakhstan - hosted PhD students and teaching staff from their respective countries. A video conference was arranged between the countries, whereas scientists and experts from the European Union connected online. From 28 February to 04 March 2022, the Second Block Seminar took place. Due to the same constraints related to COVID-19, the block seminar was held in a hybrid format. The responsible partner in Russia on Module 1, Novosibirsk SAU hosted PhD students and lecturers from Kazakh and Russian agrarian universities. The European partners of the project and the participants of the block seminar from the Stavropol State Agrarian University joined in the online format.
The programs of the block seminars were intense and included the following sessions: interactive lectures by leading scientists from the EU (Germany, Czech Republic and Poland), workshops by Russian and Kazakh scientists, group SMARTagro projects assignments, integration into the scientific community and presentations of own PhD-students’ research. The block seminars also included research, practice-oriented tasks and study trips to the leading agricultural enterprises in Russia and Kazakhstan: Breeding Livestock Farm "Irmen", Advanced Agrarian Enterprise "Sokolovo" in Russia and Agrohab "Centre of Sustainable Agriculture" KazNARU, experimental farm "Saimasai" in Kazakhstan.
On the final days of the block seminars, PhD-students from Russia and Kazakhstan presented elaborated SMARTagro group projects, in which they proposed their ideas on application and promotion of smart farming tools and smart technologies in agriculture. The young scientists received feedback from leading scientists and qualified experts on the effectiveness of digitalization, digital implementations and problem solving in the Agro-Industry. The defenses were followed by panel discussions where the leading manufacturers of agricultural machinery, agricultural producers, representatives of regional authorities and research institutes discussed the topical issues of smart farming and digitalization. One of the main topics of the block seminars, 'Federal and national programs for digitalization in Russia and Kazakhstan', was also discussed. PhD-students, teaching staff and experts, lively and vividly discussed the advantages and disadvantages of these national programs.
In conclusion, the SAGRIS project leader Professor Heinrich Schüle (University of Nürtingen-Geislingen) summed up the results and received feedback from postgraduate students. Based on the results of two bloc-seminars, Novosibirsk SAU and KazNARU awarded certificates of advanced training to all project participants.