The role of farmers’ social networks in the implementation of no-till farming practices

Skaalsveen, Kamilla, Ingram, Julie ORCID: 0000-0003-0712-4789 and Urquhart, Julie ORCID: 0000-0001-5000-4630 (2020) The role of farmers’ social networks in the implementation of no-till farming practices. Agricultural Systems, 181. p. 102824. doi:10.1016/j.agsy.2020.102824

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This paper draws on network science and uses a Social Network Analysis to improve our understanding of how the implementation of no-till in England is influenced by farmers’ social networks. No-till is a low disturbance farming practice with potential to benefit soil health, the aquatic environment and farm economy, but is currently only implemented at a small scale in Europe. Interpersonal networks are important for farmers and influence farmer learning and decision-making and farmers often view each other as their main source of information. In this study, the social networks of 16 no-till farmers in England were mapped and semi-structured interviews carried out to assess the link between farmer network characteristics and the implementation of no-till in England. We also aimed to improve our understanding of the nature and extent of knowledge exchanged within farmer networks and their spatial and temporal dynamics. Our findings suggest that intermediary farmers had an important role in increasing the information flow and knowledge exchange between the different clusters of the no-till farmer network. These intermediaries were also the biggest influencers as they were often no-till farmers with a high level of experiential knowledge and viewed as important sources of information by other farmers. No-till farmer networks were geographically distributed as the farmers preferred to discuss farming practices with similar minded no-till farmers rather than local conventional farmers who did not understand what they were trying to achieve. Therefore, online communication platforms like social media were important for communication. We question the role of formal extension services in supporting farmers with innovative practices like no-till and suggest that advisors should strive to improve their understanding of these well-developed information networks to enable a more streamlined and efficient information diffusion.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: No-till; Farmer networks; SNA; Knowledge exchange; :earning
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture > SB183 Field crops including cereals, forage, grasses, legumes, root crops, sugar plants, textile plants
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Bethany Leake
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2020 09:12
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2022 16:47

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