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Exploring the multifundtional role of farming systems

Hermansen, John Erik; Noe, Egon and Halberg, Niels (2006) Exploring the multifundtional role of farming systems. In: Changing European farming systems for a better future: New visions for rural areas. Wageningen Academic Publishers, The Netherlands, pp. 109-116.

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Farming business is like any other business constantly challenged by the changing demands and expectations from the surroundings – farming even may be more explicitly due to the comprehensive regulation and public support through subsidies within the Europe Union. The development of sustainable farming system has been a main challenge until now, where particular focus has been put on the environmental impact and how to farm without unacceptable environmental impacts. Research and developments efforts included decision support tools for farm management in relation to environmental impact (c.f. Halberg et al., 2005), and the interaction between land use for farming, landscape and ecological services has been subject to considerable efforts (c.f. Gibbon, 2005). At present the societal expectations to farming is moving from a demand for “environmental sustainable farming practise” to an expectation that farming should be able to contribute significantly (more) to the development of rural areas. This can be translated into an expectation of multifunctionality of farming. At the same time European food production, as it takes place now is, under heavy pressure from food production in other parts of the world. Therefore, it is also in the interest of at least some farmers to look for other ways of generating income. So, for several reasons it will be important for many farmers to adapt to such expectations and opportunities. This calls for efforts to better understand development possibilities of farms in relation to multifunctionality and understand the possible role of different farming’s practises in relation to rural development.
Until now such efforts have only been given little attention in mainstream agricultural research. May be because multifunctionality to a high degree needs to be considered site-specific and includes a major normative component. However, also “environ-mental sustainable farming” includes a major normative component due to the variety of (complex) impacts of farming on the environment (i.e. if the impact is considered local or global, or considered in the short term or the long term). Therefore, it seems appropriate to draw on the past experiences of methods to improve the environmental performance of farming in exploring the multifunctional performance of farming. The purpose of this paper is to present our experiences in researching farmers possibilities and motivation to adapt to more environmental sustainable systems and – based on these experiences – to suggest how an intensified effort in researching multifunctional farming systems appropriately could take place.

EPrint Type:Report chapter
Keywords:Indicators, platform for dialogue, farm performance, systems research, rural development, multifunctional agriculture
Subjects: Farming Systems
Research affiliation: Denmark > AU - Aarhus University > AU, DJF - Faculty of Agricultural Sciences
Deposited By: Hansen, Grethe
ID Code:15520
Deposited On:09 Mar 2009
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:39
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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