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Are we making progress in mechanical weed control research?

Rasmussen, Jesper (2004) Are we making progress in mechanical weed control research? Speech at: 6th EWRS Workshop on Physical and Cultural Weed Control, Lillehammer, Norway, 8-10 March 2004.

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This study investigates whether researchers’ perceptions of good research are in agreement with current research practice as reflected in Weed Research. A high degree of agreement is assumed to indicate progress.
The instrument used to survey researchers perceptions was a questionnaire consisting of 28 items related to (1) research methodologies, (2) research priorities, (3) quality of publications, (4) future developments in technology and agriculture and (5) general attitudes to alternative and conventional agriculture. Questions about gender and personal research engagement were also laid down in the questionnaire. The questionnaire was sent out by e-mail to about 140 researchers on the mailing list of the EWRS – Physical and Cultural Weed Control Group and 60 questionnaires were completed and returned. An analysis of all Weed Research publications in the period 1998-2003 investigated current research practices.
The questionnaire showed that researchers in the working group are not specialized. Of the respondents, only 4 researchers (7%) used 50% or more of their research hours on mechanical weed control but a total of 44 researchers (73%) were active within this area.
Views on research and agriculture varied significantly within the group and two counter paradigms were identified often refereed to as alternative and dominant. The alternative paradigm was connected with organic farming and the dominant paradigm was connected with conventional agriculture. Alternative paradigmatic positions prevailed among the respondents although strong dominant positions were also represented. Females (N=15) held more alternative positions than males (P < 0.01) and researchers engaged in herbicide technology (N=13) held more dominant positions than the rest P < 0.05.
By using an alternative-dominant scale, it was evident that respondents’ perceptions of good research was linked to basic values and beliefs that determine the overall understanding of how agriculture works and should be developed. Alternative perceptions of good research, however, seemed to be inconsistent with the current research practice as reflected in Weed Research. Consistency between ideals and reality should result in (1) more multidisciplinary studies to facilitate broader perspectives on weed control, (2) more studies carried out on working farms, (3) more system approaches that include whole agro-ecosystems with farmers and other stakeholders, (4) value inquiries, (5) participative research and (6) reflective approaches. Papers published in Weed Research clearly demonstrate, that alternative research in the ideal is different from research in reality. The main difference between alternative and dominant research is in what gets studied, not in how it is studied.
In conclusion, research in physical and cultural weed control may be evaluated successful in a dominant paradigmatic perspective but progress is very limited in an alternative paradigmatic perspective. There seems to exist a mismatch between ideals and reality in weed research, which challenges ideals as well as practice.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Speech
Keywords:systems, paradigms
Subjects: Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy
Crop husbandry > Weed management
Research affiliation: Denmark > KU - University of Copenhagen > KU-LIFE - Faculty of Life Sciences
Related Links:http://www.ewrs-et.org/pwc/
Deposited By: Rasmussen, Associate professor Jesper
ID Code:2500
Deposited On:16 Apr 2004
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:29
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed
Commentary on: Rasmussen, Jesper (2004) Are we making progress in mechanical weed control research? In: Proceedings 6th EWRS Workshop on Physical and Cultural Weed Control, Lillehammer, Norway, 115-122., pp. 115-122.

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