Understanding influences on farmers' practices

Lane, Andrew and Oreszczyn, Sue (2013). Understanding influences on farmers' practices. In: Sustainable intensification: The pathway to low carbon farming?, 25-27 Sep 2013, Edinburgh, pp. 41–43.

URL: http://www.sruc.ac.uk/downloads/file/1613/book_of_...


Farming is a complex human activity system with many actors and many components. Farming is also an activity that has, in recent decades, been ascribed two major, but potentially conflicting, objectives: the short to medium term production of sufficient food to support socio-economic driven needs of security and stability and the medium to long term philosophical and aesthetic desire to manage and conserve the ‘natural world’ . While there have been attempts to reconcile these different objectives both theoretically, as with the concept of Ecosystem Services , and practically through Agri-environment schemes , all too often these innovations have been provided for farmers by others without sufficient regard to the farmers’ own practices and contexts. This is in contrast to being developed with farmers, using their experiential knowledge to shape those innovations both before and after adoption and implementation. Indeed our main thesis is that the differing perspectives of the many actors, and in particular the perspectives of farmers versus other actors, leads farmers to use knowledge management practices that mix and match information from a variety of trusted sources to suit the needs of their farming business. If external knowledge and innovations are to support sustainable intensification then they must also be matched with an understanding of the practices and contexts in which they are to be deployed. In this paper we set out some key considerations that researchers have raised about innovations, practices and knowledge exchanges around farming that can influence both productivity and environmental performance.

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