AbstractFaced with a future including environmental impacts on agriculture and food production from climate change, alongside a growing population: this thesis considers agroecology and sustainable agriculture farming practices to enable farmers in the UK to have climate-resilient livelihoods. The research explores existing agroecological interventions in the UK, along with drivers and barriers to changing behaviour amongst those farmers towards using agroecological techniques. Through an investigation of
sustainable livelihoods, an analytical framework was developed to assist with the data collection and analysis. Using a mixed method study of data collection, the first phase comprised a quantitative and qualitative survey, and the second phase an in-depth
qualitative individual and group interviews. The results were analysed using a conceptual model of resilient rural agricultural livelihoods in the UK.
By comparing back to the theory and concepts, the results were discussed and evaluated. These included the importance of sustainable livelihoods in assessing agroecology and sustainable farming in the UK. Evaluation of the results highlighted the following issues: hazards to farmers from climate change through to finances; how farmer assets (social, human, natural, financial and physical) can help build resilience to those hazards; and how barriers to change - including sociological and psychological
barriers - can reduce a farmer’s assets and increase their vulnerability to climate change and other hazards.
Key findings included one which has already been acknowledged to be important for climate-resilient agriculture, which was to improve soil health, both for improved nutrients, but also for carbon sequestration and water retention. Another key finding
was the emergence of the “digital electronic hedge” for farmer learning, mentoring and communication. Through video, social media, web forums and email, farmers are collapsing geographical barriers to look over their ‘neighbour’s hedge’ at opposite ends
of the country. Furthermore, the same mediums can bridge the gap between farmers and researchers which can be important for extending new techniques and theories.
|Date of Award||2017|
|Supervisor||Julia Wright (Supervisor), Ulrich Schmutz (Supervisor) & Christine Broughan (Supervisor)|