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Research Experience with Tools to Involve Farmers and Local Institutions in Developing More Environmentally Friendly Practices

Noe, Egon and Halberg, Niels (2002) Research Experience with Tools to Involve Farmers and Local Institutions in Developing More Environmentally Friendly Practices. In: Hagedorn, Konrad (Ed.) Environmental Co-operation and Institutional Change. Theories and Policies for European Agriculture. New Horizons in Enronmental Economics. , chapter 8, pp. 143-161.

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As a response to the increasing public focus on the externalities of intensive farming and the resulting pres-sure to strengthen public regulation for farming practices, Danish farmers, within their own farming organi-sations, have begun to formulate their own goals and intentions for the development of environmentally friendly farming. Moreover, the number of organic farms is increasing all over Europe and the EU is pres-ently trying to harmonise the organic rules. However, this coupling of a still more centralised formulation of organic rules and a broader group of farmers not involved in the original value debates in the organic movement might threaten to reduce the potential environmental benefits of conversion to organic farming. For these reasons, there seems to be a need for tools facilitating both conventional and organic farmers to reflect on their current practices and values in the light of society’s demands for environmental goods and nature values.
With the overall aim to facilitate a learning process for farm families, the ethical accounting consists of group dialogues (to help the family clarify its own values and goals in the light of interests existing in soci-ety), a yearly accounting with indicators of resource use, environmental impact and animal welfare, and so on, and a MODS procedure (‘multi-objective decisions support’) for strategic planning on the farm in¬cluding the new criteria on which the family might want to focus. On the basis of an evaluation of the 20 participating farmers' attitudes toward ethical accounting, a theoretical understanding of the important fac-tors influencing the farmers' involvement in the reflection and farm development process was developed. This approach was subsequently used to structure a questionnaire concerning farmers' interests in decision aids, resource use and the environmental impact of farming. The questionnaire was mailed to about 1000 organic farmers. Results from this analysis will be presented and discussed in the light of the overall theme of possibilities for involving farmers in the development of farming practices in relation to local environ-mental goals. Finally, this topic will be discussed using preliminary results from a project using a social network theory to research 40 neighbouring farmers’ possibilities of and motivation for developing envi-ronmentally friendly practices in a small region with sensitive groundwater resources.
With this background, the goal of this chapter is to present an empirical and theoretical reflection on how interactive decision tools can contribute to the involvement of farmers in developing more environmentally friendly farming practices.

EPrint Type:Report chapter
Keywords:livestock farm; organic farmers; conventional dairy farmers; pig farmers
Subjects: Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Farming Systems
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
Research affiliation: Denmark > AU - Aarhus University > AU, DJF - Faculty of Agricultural Sciences
Deposited By: Kirkegaard, Lene/LKI
ID Code:13119
Deposited On:11 Apr 2008
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:36
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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