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Extension (and) Education for Sustainable Farming Systems

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2020) | Viewed by 24646

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Agricultural University of Athens, 11855 Athina, Greece
Interests: interactive innovation; communication; sustainable rural/local development; AKIS; agritourism
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Albrecht Daniel Thaer–Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany
Interests: vocational education; extension; communication; participation; transdisciplinarity; project cycle management; education for sustainable development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue includes a selection of papers on Agricultural Extension (and) Education for sustainable/ adaptive management of farming systems that will be presented at the 14th European Farming Systems Conference, held from 20 to 26 March 2020 in Evora (Portugal). The event, organized by the International Farming Systems Association—Europe Group will be hosted by the Institute of Mediterranean Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of the University of Evora, represents an important opportunity for both researchers/academics and practitioners to present and critically discuss their work revolving around the conference’s focus: Farming Systems Facing Climate Change and Resource Challenges (conference title).

The conference program is structured around the six conference’s themes addressing a wide variety of scientific research, policies and practices related to the adaptive management of farming systems vis-à-vis climate change and the wise use of both natural and human/social resources and their capacity to adapt.

The Special Issue includes, in particular, research addressing issues relating to innovation and extension education for sustainability that will be presented in the framework of Theme 1 of the conference titled “Innovation Support Services”.

The main objectives of the Theme, reflecting the importance of multi-stakeholder processes in sustainability rhetoric and practice, focus on the exploration of (1) the current change of paradigm (i.e., the shift from ‘transfer’ to ‘intermediation’) and the emerging roles of extensionists/ advisors as facilitators/ brokers stimulating and facilitating the process of (interactive) innovation, (2) the utilization of participatory/ collaborative methodologies for the co-generation, adaptation, and use of innovations at scale, and (3) theoretical and methodological approaches and empirical cases that promote collaborative/ participative/ transdisciplinary learning of members of different scientific disciplines and societal stakeholders involved in the sustainable management and governance of their respective farming systems.

Prof. Dr. Koutsouris Alexandros
Dr. Thomas Aenis
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Innovation Support Services
  • Agricultural Extension (and) Education
  • Farming Systems
  • Interactive innovation
  • Intermediation
  • Multi-stakeholder processes
  • Learning
  • Transdisciplinarity

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

21 pages, 309 KiB  
Article
An Ethnographic Look into Farmer Discussion Groups through the Lens of Social Learning Theory
by Elizabeth Dooley
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7808; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187808 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4060
Abstract
Farmer discussion groups (FDGs) are a collaborative mechanism through which farmers can engage and learn from and with their peers. Participants cite numerous benefits from FDGs, e.g., economic, social, etc., but how learning happens in these contexts from an adult cognitive learning theory [...] Read more.
Farmer discussion groups (FDGs) are a collaborative mechanism through which farmers can engage and learn from and with their peers. Participants cite numerous benefits from FDGs, e.g., economic, social, etc., but how learning happens in these contexts from an adult cognitive learning theory perspective is not well understood. Thus, Bandura’s social learning theory was used to study seven FDGs in the South West of England. The objective was to determine whether social learning was occurring through the FDGs’ interactions, examined according to three elements: (1) behaviour modelling, (2) role modelling and (3) self-reflexivity. An ethnographic methodology was utilised to gather rich empirical data through participant observation of 42 meetings and 24 semi-structured interviews. The results from 12 months attending FDG meetings demonstrated that behaviour modelling and role modelling were present in all FDGs. Self-reflexivity, however, was not evidenced as being promoted by all groups’ interactions, which (facilitated) critical discourse amongst the FDG participants was found to foster. Thus, evidence of social learning was not found to be occurring as a result of all the FDGs’ interactions. Collaborative learning processes that aim to promote social learning should build participants’ capacity and skills, structure engagement and train facilitators to foster critical discourse that may help promote self-reflexivity from behaviour modelling and role modelling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extension (and) Education for Sustainable Farming Systems)
26 pages, 637 KiB  
Article
Methodological Reflections on Monitoring Interactive Knowledge Creation during Farming Demonstrations by Means of Surveys and Observations
by Ane Kirstine Aare, Hanne Cooreman, Cristina Virto Garayoa, Esther Sótil Arrieta, Natalia Bellostas, Fleur Marchand and Henrik Hauggaard-Nielsen
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5739; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145739 - 16 Jul 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2373
Abstract
During farming demonstrations, peer-to-peer learning is known to be more effective than technology transfer when encouraging farmers to consider adopting more sustainable farming practices. Interactive knowledge creation has the potential to create a stimulating peer-learning environment focusing on the use of hands-on activities, [...] Read more.
During farming demonstrations, peer-to-peer learning is known to be more effective than technology transfer when encouraging farmers to consider adopting more sustainable farming practices. Interactive knowledge creation has the potential to create a stimulating peer-learning environment focusing on the use of hands-on activities, knowledge scaffolding, discussions and negotiation. This study investigated how insight can be gained about the interactive knowledge creation that occurs during farming demonstrations by monitoring and evaluating a diverse sample of farming demonstrations in Belgium, Spain and Denmark via surveys and observations originally designed for the AgriDemo-F2F project. The study found that the selected monitoring tools provided insight about how participants experienced specific interactive knowledge creation. However, several stumbling blocks were also identified in using the proposed tools to monitor these learning processes, including the monitoring of abstract concepts and the reluctance among farmers to respond to self-administered open-ended survey questions. Based on these learning points, several proposals were made to improve the monitoring process of interactive knowledge creation. This study confirms that the improved understanding of learning practices and their impact on actual change presents a challenge, but it is essential if the adoption of sustainable farming practices is to be increased. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extension (and) Education for Sustainable Farming Systems)
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14 pages, 691 KiB  
Article
Collaboration in the Making—Towards a Practice-Based Approach to University Innovation Intermediary Organisations
by Lisa Blix Germundsson, Sören Augustinsson and Alina Lidén
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 5142; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12125142 - 24 Jun 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2925
Abstract
The study aims to understand and explore situations of collaboration between various actors in connection with a university-driven innovation intermediary organisation, and how the intermediary organisation facilitates collaboration in the making. To this end, we employ a case of a university-driven long-lasting intermediary [...] Read more.
The study aims to understand and explore situations of collaboration between various actors in connection with a university-driven innovation intermediary organisation, and how the intermediary organisation facilitates collaboration in the making. To this end, we employ a case of a university-driven long-lasting intermediary organisation within the agricultural and forestry sectors. We examine three collaborative situations, using practice-based research and process theories as theoretical perspectives. A narrative approach is adopted as the method of investigation. The findings are presented in a conceptual model where the structures of the intermediary organisation are translated into practices, against which individuals can develop their collaboration processes. It is concluded that collaboration in the making is formed in the interplay between structures, practices and processes in relations between people. This implies that the organising of collaboration should focus its attention not only on structures but also on the practices and processes formed between people. The study contributes to the understanding of the organising of university innovation intermediary organisations by untangling the relations between structures, practices and processes in situations of collaboration between people. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extension (and) Education for Sustainable Farming Systems)
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15 pages, 441 KiB  
Article
Investigating the Drivers of Farmers’ Engagement in a Participatory Extension Programme: The Case of Northern Ireland Business Development Groups
by Claire Jack, Adewale H. Adenuga, Austen Ashfield and Michael Wallace
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4510; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114510 - 2 Jun 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 5551
Abstract
Participatory agricultural extension programmes aimed at encouraging knowledge transfer and the adoption of new technology and innovation at the farm level are a novel approach to advisory service provision. In order to drive sustainable agricultural production systems that address farm-level economic and environmental [...] Read more.
Participatory agricultural extension programmes aimed at encouraging knowledge transfer and the adoption of new technology and innovation at the farm level are a novel approach to advisory service provision. In order to drive sustainable agricultural production systems that address farm-level economic and environmental objectives, the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) in November 2015, developed a new participatory extension programme for farmers in Northern Ireland, the Business Development Groups (BDGs). The purpose of this paper is to examine and analyse the drivers of farmers’ decisions in relation to joining and participating in this new approach to farm extension, learning and advisory service provision. Making use of data from both primary and secondary sources, this study employs a mixed-methods approach which involves an empirical analysis of quantitative and qualitative data to examine the factors influencing membership of the BDG programme. The results of our analyses show that larger, more intensive farmers who are keen to access information from other farmers to improve their business performance are most likely to participate in the BDG programme. The study contributes to the empirical literature by establishing the need to take into consideration the different characteristics of farmers in the design and delivery of participatory extension programmes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extension (and) Education for Sustainable Farming Systems)
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15 pages, 1674 KiB  
Article
Learning Interdisciplinarity and Systems Approaches in Agroecology: Experience with the Serious Game SEGAE
by Julia Jouan, Mireille De Graeuwe, Matthieu Carof, Rim Baccar, Nathalie Bareille, Suzanne Bastian, Delphine Brogna, Giovanni Burgio, Sébastien Couvreur, Michał Cupiał, Benjamin Dumont, Anne-Lise Jacquot, Serena Magagnoli, Joanna Makulska, Kevin Maréchal, Guénola Pérès, Aude Ridier, Thibault Salou, Barbara Tombarkiewicz, Fabio Sgolastra and Olivier Godinotadd Show full author list remove Hide full author list
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4351; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114351 - 26 May 2020
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 6891
Abstract
Agroecology represents a pertinent option to improve the sustainability of agriculture. To promote its application, agroecological concepts should be taught to students and professionals in the agricultural sector. However, most agricultural courses are not adapted to teach these concepts due to little interactivity [...] Read more.
Agroecology represents a pertinent option to improve the sustainability of agriculture. To promote its application, agroecological concepts should be taught to students and professionals in the agricultural sector. However, most agricultural courses are not adapted to teach these concepts due to little interactivity or interdisciplinarity, and a lack of a systems approach to farm management. Serious games help to fill these gaps by simulating complex models in which players can learn by doing. We thus developed a serious computer game, called SEGAE (SErious Game for AgroEcology learning), which represents a mixed crop-livestock farm and assesses impacts of farming practices on indicators related to environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Its pedagogical interest was evaluated through two types of surveys given to university students who played the game during a one-week workshop: A knowledge survey on agroecology, and a feedback survey based on flow theory. Results showed that students increased their knowledge of agroecology significantly, particularly those who had had little knowledge of crop production. More than 86% of the students enjoyed the game, appreciating its interaction and feedback. Thus, SEGAE is an interesting tool to help students acquire knowledge of agroecology in a fun way by facilitating interdisciplinary and collaborative learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extension (and) Education for Sustainable Farming Systems)
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15 pages, 1696 KiB  
Article
The Use of Video to Evaluate On-Farm Demonstrations as a Tactile Space for Learning
by Hanne Cooreman, Joke Vandenabeele, Lies Debruyne and Fleur Marchand
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4342; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114342 - 26 May 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2169
Abstract
Tactile spaces as learning environments influence individuals’ attitudes through social embeddedness or interconnections among people, and physical embodiedness through experiencing surroundings, potentially fostering deep commitments. When on-farm demonstrations operate as tactile spaces, they could potentially support the adoption of innovative agricultural practices. In [...] Read more.
Tactile spaces as learning environments influence individuals’ attitudes through social embeddedness or interconnections among people, and physical embodiedness through experiencing surroundings, potentially fostering deep commitments. When on-farm demonstrations operate as tactile spaces, they could potentially support the adoption of innovative agricultural practices. In this article, we introduce video analysis as a methodological approach to evaluate this potential of on-farm demonstration (OFD) as tactile spaces. We reflect upon this methodology with a lens on three Belgian on-farm demonstrations, each on a different topic with a different participant group, all including farmers. As a first result, this method assists in defining strengths and weaknesses of an OFD in terms of using its potential as a rich learning environment. Based on our cases, we suggest deliberately incorporating physical interaction opportunities and verbal references to the surroundings during OFDs, as our data reveals that physical embodiedness opportunities stimulate verbal and physical interactions. However, more research should confirm this. Secondly, our research resulted in lessons learned for future use of video to evaluate OFDs as tactile spaces, building on the VDA methodological framework of Nassauer and Legewie (2018). We summarise our insights in methodological guidelines, which can serve as a starting point to guide future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extension (and) Education for Sustainable Farming Systems)
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