Achieving successful farmer engagement on greenhouse gas emission mitigation

Sara Burbi, Richard N. Baines, John S. Conway

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    This paper explores the potential for farmers’ engagement on the issues related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emission mitigation in extensive low-input livestock farming systems. The framework used was based on Participatory Action Research (PAR). This involved integrating quantitative evidence on GHG emission impacts at the farm level and qualitative data on the obstacles to the adoption of innovation based on farmers’ perceptions and attitudes to climate change. The study aims at building social capital among 14 farmers in the South West and West Midlands regions in England, and it evaluates the potential for adoption of emission mitigation strategies. The Rapid Farm Practices Appraisal (RFPA) tool was created to assess farm practices based on their mitigation potential. Practices were assessed twice over 6-9 months. Semi-structured interviews were used to assess barriers and opportunities to farmer engagement and on-farm innovation. Farmers were invited to a focus group meeting to network with other farmers and engage with researchers. All farmers participated in the 2 farm assessments, but only half the farmers adopted changes in farm management. All farmers appreciated the RFPA tool, the clearness of the information provided and the focus of the tool on practices directly. The main obstacles to innovation were limited financial capital, lack of trust in government action and confusion over the effectiveness of farm advice on mitigation. The lack of long-term flexibility of agricultural policies and the source of information greatly influenced the acceptance of advice. Results suggest the potential for the expansion of the RFPA tool to include economic assessment of farm practices and the engagement of a larger pool of farmers and farming systems. The tool could be used to support the GHG Action Plan and future environmental policies, and as an integrated self-assessment tool for farmers under Environmental Stewardship Schemes.This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability on 2016 available online: 10.1080/14735903.2016.1152062
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)466-483
    Number of pages18
    JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
    Issue number4
    Early online date16 Mar 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • agricultural extension
    • participatory research
    • greenhouse gas emissions
    • low-input farming
    • livestock
    • farmer engagement


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