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Using co-constructed mental models to understand stakeholder perspectives on agroecology

Van Hulst, F., Ellis, R., Prager, K. and Msika, J. (2020) Using co-constructed mental models to understand stakeholder perspectives on agroecology. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 18 (2). pp. 172-195. ISSN 1747-762X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/14735903.2020.1743553


Agro-ecology has been recognised as a potential route to realising the multiple economic, social, and environmental benefits increasingly required of agricultural systems. However, views on what constitutes agro-ecology differ considerably between countries, and also between stakeholder groups such as natural scientists and farmers. To identify areas of convergence and divergence in understandings of agro-ecology in the Scottish context, we used a novel co-constructed mental modelling approach with a sample of 8 scientists and 7 farmers in the North East of Scotland. Results show that agro-ecology in Scotland is currently mainly understood as a scientific discipline applying ecological analysis to agricultural systems. Farmers’ mental models show a wider consideration of the food system, including consumer health, markets and sustainable energy. Precision farming featured prominently in farmers’ mental models but not in the scientists’ mental models. Our discussion therefore raises the question to what extent precision farming and agro-ecology support or contradict each other. We conclude that although farmers and scientists differ considerably there are areas of shared understanding, such as the potential of novel crops and new crop rotations, which could be the starting point of working towards an agriculture that delivers multiple benefits.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of International Development
ID Code:89467
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cognitive maps; precision farming; sustainability; organic; ecosystem services; transitions
Publisher:Informa UK Limited


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