At the beginning of June, a team from Wageningen University & Research provided an in-company training programme for Stanley Agriculture Group in China. As one of China's three largest manufacturers of artificial fertiliser, Stanley's strategy over the coming years is to evolve from a product-oriented organisation to a service organisation with a greater focus on customers.
To support this transition, Wageningen Academy has been working on a specific in-company programme over the past few months, for which it has used input from various experts at Wageningen University & Research. The Academy looked to vary the didactic forms used in order to provide a training programme with the largest benefit for Stanley.
Led by Miel Hooijdonk from Wageningen Academy, the Wageningen team brought together John Verhoeven from Wageningen Plant Research (AGV) and Oene Oenema and Tomek de Ponti, both from Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra).
The Fertilization & Plant Growth programme dealt with soil, plant growth and fertilisation, with a focus on how these aspects are interrelated. ‘The main aim was to teach participants to think in systems and identify the relations between the various factors,’ says Miel Hooijdonk from Wageningen Academy. ‘Alongside lectures and assignments, we organised a field practical course at Stanley's Demonstration Farm. This course was also the first time the Soil Fertility Tool was used in China.’
The Soil Fertility Tool is an online tool that provides a simple, easy and affordable means of assessing both the current and future health and productive capacity of the soil. It also provides advice on soil management. ‘The Soil Fertility Tool combines the best of both worlds,’ says Tomek de Ponti from Wageningen Environmental Research. ‘It's based on scientific research that can be easily and practically applied using an ergonomic interface.’ The users were extremely positive about the tool, which demonstrated how System Thinking can be applied in practice.
A particular highlight of the visit was the presentation given by John Verhoeven in front of 1,000 Stanley sales representatives during their annual Sales Meeting. The presentation on the 5 Golden Rules of Fertilization used specially developed visuals to convey John's message in a memorable way. Oene Oenema's expertise and years of experience in China played a key role in tailoring the Fertilization & Plant Growth programme as much as possible to Stanley and its needs.
Following the first training session, a group from Stanley will be travelling to the Netherlands for a ten-day programme. The preparations for this programme are already under way, and various experts from different divisions at Wageningen University & Research will once again provide their input.