Farmers ‘accepting mess’ and happy to use agroecology (Sustain)


This article was originally published by Sustain, and can be read here.


The report, co-written by Sustain member the Organic Research Centre, analysed the practical experiences of a group of 14 farmers from Scotland, England and Wales. They ranged from small scale to large commercial enterprises.

The researchers undertook a social science study to address the question of how farmers experience their own personal transition from conventional agriculture to the adoption of agroecological farm practices and systems.

The farmers reported cognitive shifts in their understanding of farming, as well as emotional shifts in enjoying new skills and knowledge. They also reported shifts in their understanding of farming (“change in mind-set, “weeds as forage” and “accepting mess”). Having started with some agroecological practices and seeing positive outcomes, the farmers then considered adopting others to ‘redesign’ their farming systems.

Dr Susanne Padel from the Organic Research Centre and a co-author of the study said,

“This is a time of great change and worry for farmers in the UK. Government is discussing how we rethink the way the countryside is managed to make sure we have a sustainable, profitable, farming industry post Brexit. Our report is therefore extremely timely and provides further insight on the experiences of a wide group of farmers. It adds to the debate on the practical implications of transitioning to agroecology and importantly, how this can be a potential way forward for other farmers.”

The report ‘Transitions to Agroecological Systems: Farmers’ Viewpoints’ was commissioned by the Land Use Policy Group and funded by Scottish National Heritage. It was written by the Organic Research Centre and the GWCT’s Allerton project, You can download the full report here.

Sustain campaigns for a food and farming policy which benefits the environment, health, animals and farmers.