Plant disease risk and grower–agronomist perceptions and relationships: An analysis of the UK potato and wheat sectors

Ilbery, Brian W, Maye, Damian ORCID: 0000-0002-4459-6630 and Little, Ruth (2012) Plant disease risk and grower–agronomist perceptions and relationships: An analysis of the UK potato and wheat sectors. Applied Geography, 34. pp. 306-315. doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2011.12.003

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Plant diseases can impact on crop yields and disrupt food supply chains. It is surprising, therefore, that a detailed analysis of key actor responses to disease risk has not been undertaken. This paper examines grower and agronomist perceptions, and their relationships, in the management of plant disease in two UK arable sectors: wheat and potatoes. Applying social science concepts of risk, trust and agricultural knowledges, interviews were conducted with 30 growers and 10 agronomists in Lincolnshire (Eastern England) and Herefordshire (West Midlands). A majority of growers had a broad fungicide spray programme for their crops, rather than a formal plan, and this was guided by their previous experiences and advice from agronomists. For agronomists, flexible spray programmes were also seen as essential, based on knowledge of the local area, disease pressure and prevailing weather patterns. Neither growers nor agronomists rely solely on scientific knowledge (risk as analysis) in their decision-making and intuitive responses (risk as feeling) also play an important role in plant disease management. The influence of agronomists varies from almost complete grower dependence to occasional use and verification. However, the knowledge exchange encounters between growers and agronomists are increasingly interactive and reflect personality and the accumulation of trust between them rather than factors such as farm size, farm type, area and the age of the farmer.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: REF2014 Submission. Author Keywords:Plant disease; Arable crops; Risk; Trust and knowledge exchange; Grower-agronomist relationships; In-depth interviews; Lincolnshire/Herefordshire KeyWords Plus:FOOD-SUPPLY CHAINS; CLIMATE-CHANGE; KNOWLEDGE; FARMERS; TRUST; PERSPECTIVES; GEOGRAPHIES; BIOSECURITY; SECURITY; SCIENCE
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2014 14:56
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 21:27

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