Learning systems, innovation and 'the wrong kind of weather'

Blackmore, Chris (2014). Learning systems, innovation and 'the wrong kind of weather'. In: 11th European International Farming Systems Association Symposium: Farming Systems Facing Global Challenges: Capacities and Strategies, 1-4 Apr 2014, Berlin, Germany.

URL: http://project2.zalf.de/IFSA_2014


Extremes of wet and dry weather experienced in the UK in the past few years have raised many questions and issues about traditional water managing and farming practices. Farm infrastructure and traditional machinery have been found limiting in addressing some of the issues that have arisen, such as increases in flooding, diffuse pollution and inability to access land to carry out basic farming operations. This paper considers some reactions to these issues from those who are tasked with trying to address them both in the short and long term. These include those who suggest that it is not the weather that is at issue but how we deal with it, with our legacy systems of technologies and institutions. This paper is written from the viewpoint of considering what kinds of social infrastructure can support learning to make improvements in such situations at a range of different levels. It also reviews the nature of some of the learning that has taken place and discusses implications for future learning system design. Key examples are drawn from two research contexts (i) some long-term inquiries through case studies that concerns water managing, governance and climate adaptation and (ii) a community of researchers working on the development of a new generation of agricultural machines they claim to be more appropriate to extremes in weather. Theories of learning systems inform this contribution.

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