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Researching alternative, sustainable agricultural systems: A modelling approach by examples from Denmark

Alrøe, Hugo Fjelsted and Kristensen, Erik Steen (2001) Researching alternative, sustainable agricultural systems: A modelling approach by examples from Denmark. In: Matthies, Michael; Malchow, Horst and Kriz, Jürgen (Eds.) Integrative Systems Approaches to Natural and Social Dynamics. Springer Verlag, pp. 437-467.

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Summary

In recent decades agriculture has undergone rapid technological and structural changes. This development has raised concerns about the sustainability of modern agriculture and motivated an interest in alternative and, perhaps, more sustainable agricultural systems. Agriculture involves both ecological and social systems, and research in agricultural systems therefore faces the dual challenge of understanding complex agro-ecosystem interactions and handling the involvement of human actors, their practices and preferences. A major survey to assess the consequences of phasing out pesticide use in Denmark is presented as an example of a study confronting this dual challenge. The survey included the modelling of a total organic conversion of Danish agriculture, and this work is used to illustrate significant methodological issues in agricultural systems research. The removal of pesticides implies radical changes, and although the models implemented in the survey were based on all the available scientific knowledge, the work revealed insufficient knowledge in many areas. This, in turn, made it clear that the modelling could not be done without an inquiry into the different values involved. In particular, different conceptions of precaution and sustainability played major roles in the work.


EPrint Type:Book chapter
Keywords:agricultural systems, methodology, organic farming, values, sustainability, precautionary principle, Bichel Committee, organic scenarios, total organic conversion, Denmark
Subjects: Food systems
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF I (1996-2001) > VI Synthesis of knowledge and researcher education
Related Links:http://www.mst.dk/udgiv/Publications/2001/87-7944-622-1/html/default_eng.htm, http://www.mst.dk/udgiv/Publications/1998/87-7909-445-7/html/default_eng.htm
Deposited By: Alrøe, Ph.D. Hugo Fjelsted
ID Code:209
Deposited On:13 Nov 2002
Last Modified:04 Jun 2013 09:36
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted
Additional Publishing Information:This version of the paper was published in the Ph.D. thesis of Hugo Alrøe "Wholeness-oriented research in agriculture – contributions to systemic methodology and ethics: An inquiry into the relation between science and values with particular regard to organic agriculture" <http://www.orgprints.org/archive/00000015>. A slightly revised version has later been published in the book referred to.

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