Origins of the Organic Agriculture Debate

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It also makes a difference if stakeholders name research problems purely from their individual perspective, or as a result of a group process or from a broader societal perspective Fichten The perspective of stakeholders can fruitfully inform many research topics. But not all research topics are appropriate for or require a stakeholder process. Such research topics might include the development of a method to identify enzymes for a digestion process, or the analysis of the biochemical mechanism of an interaction between a predator and an insect.

Organic Vs. Organic Agriculture

Also a demand-driven research agenda confronts many tensions, e. And without question, a comprehensive literature review should be always part of the research process, even when the focus is stakeholder-driven research. Transdisciplinary research often linked with action research Hadorn et al. In OAFR, calls for research proposals increasingly require scientists to identify how the proposed research will meet the needs of farmers Freyer , a. Although the collaboration between practitioners and researchers is not an issue that is specific to OAFR, organic farming has a strong history in farmer-driven research Fiala and Freyer It seems natural that the lack of institutional support during the pioneer phase of the organic farming movement Barton ; Vogt ; Willer and Schmid led to a high importance of on-farm research in close collaboration with farmers to advance organic farming practices in comparison to mainstream farming Vogl et al.

Therefore, it is not surprising that in early discussions about the methodological requirements for organic farming, the high importance of and relevance for practitioners was emphasized Lindenthal et al.

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Today, researchers still face many hindrances, if they want design transdisciplinary research projects. First, conducting transdisciplinary research requires certain competencies see Muhar et al. Without those competencies, researchers will struggle to manage the complex and sometimes exhausting process of integrating stakeholders in their project. Unfortunately, teaching transdisciplinary competencies is still rare in higher education Dedeurwaerdere ; Merck and Beermann ; Sherren and by far not a common part of many OARF-related curricula.


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The establishment of respective lectures often faces institutional problems, because of the special features of didactic methods e. Second, although more and more calls demand a transdisciplinary research approach, there are institutional barriers to design projects that way. To summarize including stakeholders into the research process is a crucial part for OAFR, but it must not become a hollow buzzword.

We have to be clearly aware of the limitations, the difficulties, and the costs connected with moving out of the ivory tower. This awareness should lead to more adaptable research institutions in regard of funding and proposal design and in higher education systems that prepare organic researchers for this demanding task. It is further recommended to link with the diverse research communities engaged in transdisciplinary research since decades.

This dominance of applied research may also be due to the demand for solutions that can be directly transferred into practice Ekert et al. Thus, it is a misconception that results from applied science automatically guarantee their short term applicability in practice.

The transferability of research results is confronted with four challenges: 1 Organization —the direct application of research results often requires additional resources that are not considered to be part of classical research projects. The research intents other objectives or refers to other methodological approaches relevant for the research process that offers no space for a transfer oriented strategy.

Transdisciplinary action research Stokols includes the practice orientation but often risk failing due to the mentioned challenges under myth 4 see also Dressel et al.

Organic Farming - part 1 (Hindi)

In addition, those action-orientated approaches come with another trade-off: If the focus is more on a specific farming system, a kind of case study approach, the produced results may show great ways to improve the situation within this farming system, but may not be applicable in any other farm. This can be explained not only through site-specific agro-ecological conditions but also because of the farmers influenced in these trials, i.

In such case study-oriented research, which has its own value Flyvbjerg , the aim is not the direct applicability of a result in other farms, but to find the best solutions from a systems perspective for one farm. To summarize OAFR aims at producing research results that are directly applicable in practice. To be realistic, from a research point of view, this target is not always to fulfill, due to the intended research focus, i.

Furthermore, it requires specific competencies, institutional support, and additional resources.

In general, we still face obstacles how to measure the scientific and non-scientific impacts of transdisciplinary research Wolf et al. Since it is often stated that OAFR has specific requirements and that it follows a systemic approach, as well as ethical principles, it is sometimes assumed that OAFR methods also differ from methods applied in conventional farming research.

But no meta-studies are available to confirm this assumption. When it comes to the results of any applied method, we observe differences between both farming approaches. Same results must not lead to the same interpretations and consequences in practice. For example, both conventional and organic researchers concerned the availability of phosphorous in the soils, but they propose quite different management solutions. In organic farming, the crop rotation and organic manure and compost management as well as the pH are to optimize, and the nutrient status farm gate and plot specific is to analyze before adding any fertilizer from outside the farm.

In conventional farming, the first recommendation almost always is to apply mineral fertilizer. More research sector specific detailed analyses and the identification of differences and communalities in the application of methods between organic and conventional research, and more in-depth reflections about the need of new or alternative methods to understand and further develop the organic system in future, would be useful. Also, it seems natural that both researcher groups can learn from each other, how they apply methods and interpret results Rahmann et al.

Given the broad range of OAFR, it appears that organic farming has become a topic of interest within the wider scientific community. Publications and scientific conferences on organic farming have been increasing in the last two decades see www.

Origins of the Organic Agriculture Debate - Thomas R. DeGregori - Google книги

There are numerous options to present OAFR in scientific peer-reviewed journals, as well as conferences, including those journals that traditionally were established for research on conventional agricultural. From that perspective, we can conclude that organic research and the related research community are well embedded in the overall scientific community. These researchers are differently integrated and linked in the organic researcher networks e.

This potential addresses not only new topics, i. It is also clear that the organic research community is a relatively small one and has a limited number of research facilities and institutes with often low financial capacities, including laboratories, or budgets to employ a broad range of methods. There is need to specify in the diverse organic research sectors the systems approach, activating the tool box of all kinds of systems theories and methods.

IFOAM Principles guide the organic practices and therefore should be more part of research on organic farming and their future development.

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Best practices on identification of research priorities in collaboration with stakeholders should be further strengthened; however, it is to keep in mind that there are cases where researchers have to follow other research priorities. Organic researchers should access the transdisciplinary scientific movement and their theoretical and methodological discourses to better use the potential of transdisciplinary tools and related mixed methods.

There is need for a more detailed discourse on the applicability and transferability of research results. Not each research is qualified due to its problem structure, and related methods for developing solutions. This is also to communicate to the stakeholders. A research platform on organic farming methodologies and systems theories, e. Recommendations are of low significance if not supported by the research policies and budgets in the respected countries as well as activities specifically in higher education to train students in the field of organic agriculture and food sciences.

We have done so, and we invite others to do so as well. We believe that such reflection could launch an important creative process for increasing the research quality for the organic agriculture and food system. An example where systems theory is highly relevant is, e. They explain the operational closure and systems logic of a farming system and how this closure is produced and reproduced. Another example is introduced by Nuutila and Kurppa They combined a systems perspective with the activity theory to interpret the Finnish organic food chain.

With the latest established SDGs sustainable development goals , OAFR confronts a new and comprehensive ethical framework for sustainable development. SDGs already guide some research programs e. Consistent with this development, the organic movement should show the extent to which the IFOAM Principles and related programs and activities of the organic movement embody the ethical dimensions of the SDGs see also Freyer et al. Of course there are excellent exceptions, e. Also conventional farmers criticise that research is too far from the practical needs and demands Isermeyer Skip to main content Skip to sections.

Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. Seven myths of organic agriculture and food research.

The Origins of the Organic Agriculture Debate

Open Access. First Online: 12 May Introduction Today, organic agriculture and food research OAFR is well established in many agricultural research institutions. Myth 1: OAFR follows a systemic research approach It is often noted that organic agriculture follows a systemic rather than a more reductionist research approach often found in conventional agriculture. Myth 3: research priorities are defined in collaboration with practitioners Historically, farmers and other members of the organic community played an important role to develop and drive OAFR Vogt Myth 4: transdisciplinarity is a key strategy in organic farming research practice Transdisciplinary research often linked with action research Hadorn et al.

Myth 6: the methods applied in OAFR differ fundamentally from those in research on conventional farming Since it is often stated that OAFR has specific requirements and that it follows a systemic approach, as well as ethical principles, it is sometimes assumed that OAFR methods also differ from methods applied in conventional farming research.


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