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Conversion to Organic Milk Production: the change process and farmers' information needs

Padel, Susanne (2002) Conversion to Organic Milk Production: the change process and farmers' information needs. Thesis, Univeristy of Wales, Aberystwyth, Institute of Rural Studies. . [Unpublished]

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Summary

The thesis presents a study of the process of conversion to organic milk production and the resulting information needs of farmers, and the impact of conversion on production and incomes of eight case study farms.
There is a growing interest in organic farming as one of a number of alternatives to intensive agriculture. Information is considered to be important in replacing external inputs with the management of internal resources and biological/ecological processes, but there is a lack of strategic thinking about extension support.
A theoretical framework for the conversion process is developed using concepts of changing practices and farmer decision-making that are compared with the experiences of the case study farms. Three key stages of Information gathering, Evaluation and adaptation and Implementation are distinguished, as well as personal, farm-specific and external factors.
The empirical work used comparative case studies, in the traditions of farming systems and qualitative social science research, because no single conceptual model had been identified and the farmers’ experiences and personal goals were considered important to understand information needs.
The impact of conversion on farm structure, forage and milk production was analysed and converting farmers’ information needs identified as related to growing legume-based forage crops, forage yield development, budgeting of forage and preventive health management.
The analysis of the financial impact showed that through higher organic prices and reduced costs dairy farmers can compensate for output reductions in the long-term. Many dairy farmers could convert without income penalties with currently available financial support, despite increasing labour and general farming costs. Factors that influence income development during conversion were identified as farm type, structural changes, pre-conversion intensity and conversion strategy.
Recommendations for dairy farmers, providers of information and advice, and future research requirements are presented.


EPrint Type:Thesis
Thesis Type:PhD
Keywords:dairy farming, conversion process, case studies, social aspects, UWA
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Farming Systems > Farm economics
Research affiliation: UK > Univ. Aberystwyth
Deposited By: Padel, Dr Susanne
ID Code:3977
Deposited On:07 Apr 2006
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:30
Document Language:English
Status:Unpublished
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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