ENDURE sociologists will be leading a workshop addressing ‘Transitions towards sustainable agriculture: From farmers to agro-food systems’ at July’s 9th European International Farming Systems Association’s Symposium, which is being held at BOKU University in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
The symposium, which runs from July 4 to July 7, is based on the theme Building sustainable rural futures: The added value of systems approaches in times of change and uncertainty , and will provide the opportunity to discuss a number of papers produced by ENDURE’s team of sociologists, which includes representatives from ENDURE partners in Denmark, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom.
The one-day workshop will feature presentations from Egon Noe (Aarhus University, Denmark), Isabelle Haynes (National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), France), and Claire Lamine, also of INRA, who leads ENDURE’s sociology team.
Egon and Claire will also be convenors of the workshop, Transitions towards sustainable agriculture: From farmers to agro-food systems . The abstract for the workshop is as follows: ‘A transition toward sustainable agriculture involves a transition of the whole socio-technical agro-food system. This agro-food system involves not only the farming systems and related input and output chains but also the research, the extension sector, the regulations and even the civil society. The aim of this workshop is to identify the conditions and processes that are needed for the adoption of sustainable low-input practices at various levels of the food chain.’
Egon will be presenting a paper entitled The role and attitudes of agricultural advisers in implementing sustainable pest management in European agriculture - A cross-national case study in The Netherlands, France, United Kingdom and Denmark . This examines how the agricultural extension sector will deal with the challenge of making European agriculture ‘greener’. It questions whether the growing commercialisation of agricultural extension will favour or limit innovative processes aiming at low pesticide use.
Research by the ENDURE team has analysed the attitudes of different advisers and advisory organisations on pest management issues. Their results show that with no strong economical driving forces, advisers and farmers will very likely continue ‘to be stuck into ‘optimisation’ processes, with no strong innovative and radical changes in pest management strategies.’
Isabelle will be presenting the paper Are supermarkets an appropriate tool for facilitating the transition to low agrochemical use farming practices? This paper takes as its hypothesis that the influence of supermarkets on farmers’ low input practices is limited by the very production system that they have contributed to build. Despite the creation by some supermarkets of brands referring to non-chemical tools, say ENDURE researchers, the contribution of supermarkets to advanced low-input agricultural practices can be questioned. In particular, supermarkets set standards for fruit quality which relies on pesticide-intensive growing methods. Thus, conclude ENDURE’s researchers, ‘Only a shift in consumer demand thanks to increased awareness on the pesticide issue and the choice of other retail circuits might lead to a change.’
The final ENDURE paper, and the closing paper of the one-day workshop, will be presented by Claire and is titled Reducing the dependence on pesticides: A matter of transitions within the whole agro-food system . This draws on the study of different components of agro-food systems (such as farmers’ practices, extension service strategies, retailers' guidelines, research governance and the involvement of civil society) conducted by ENDURE researchers in Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.This work has allowed researchers to identify common obstacles and leverages for robust transitions towards more sustainable crop protection practices and to show that these not only concern farmers but the wider socio-technical system, its interdependencies and/or lack of coordination.
Other contributions to the workshop include papers from researchers based in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan Switzerland and Thailand. The abstracts of all the papers being presented can be found on the IFSA website.
For full details of the conference, go to the IFSA website home page.
For further information
For more details of the work of ENDURE’s RA3.5 research team, and in particular its recent report, ‘Societal assessment of current and novel low input crop protection strategies. Phase 2’, contact ENDURE.
ENDURE’s sociology team has produced three leaflets in the Social Science Insights on Crop Protection series. You can download them below:
Number 1: The conditions of transition towards IPM practices: Social Science Insights Number 1 - Transition :
Social Science Insights Number 1 - Transition [pdf - 437,09 kB]
With Dutch summary:
Social Science Insights Number 1 - Transition (Dutch) [pdf - 394,92 kB]
Number 2: Are supermarket schemes a tool for implementing Integrated Pest Management?:
Social Science Insights Number 2 - Supermarket schemes [pdf - 400,07 kB]
Number 3: Rising concerns about the impact of pesticides: an analysis of the public controversies:
Social Science Insights Number 3 - Public controversies about pesticides [pdf - 219,36 kB]