Farming Systems Research has three core characteristics: it builds on systems thinking, it depends on the close collaboration between social and biophysical sciences, and it relies on participation to build co-learning processes. Farming Systems Research posits that to contribute towards sustainable rural development, both interdisciplinary collaborations and local actor engagement are needed. Together, they allow for changes in understanding and changes in practices.
This book gives an overview of the insights generated in 20 years of Farming Systems Research. It retraces the emergence and development of Farming Systems Research in Europe, summarises the state-of-the-art for key areas, and provides an outlook on new explorations, especially those tackling the dynamic nature of farming systems and their interaction with the natural environment and the context of action.
We hope this book will serve as an inspiration for all those who seek an alternative approach to research in farming and rural development. One that builds on the reflexivity of researchers, one that takes the role of human subjectivities and perceptions seriously, one that gives voice to farmers, one that emphasises participation and co-learning processes, one that focuses on interactions between the elements, one that allows to capture interdependencies and their dynamics.
There is no doubt that Farming Systems Research has much to offer to answer the challenges faced by rural areas in the current turbulent and uncertain times. The book is thus aimed at practitioners, at graduate students and at researchers who seek new inspiration outside the mainstream, who take into account the ethical dimension of their work, and who seek encouragement to deepen their reflexivity about the meaning of professional practice and about their approach to research.
Part I: Farming Systems Research in Europe
1. Farming Systems Research: An approach to inquiry; Ika Darnhofer, David Gibbon, and Benoît Dedieu
2. The origins of the European IFSA: The first meetings and the agenda renewal; Jacques Brossier, Caterina Contini, Luigi Omodei Zorini, and Artur Cristóvão
3. Early Farming Systems Research and extension experience in Africa and possible relevance for FSR in Europe; Jim Bingen and David Gibbon
4. Textual analysis and scientometric mapping of the dynamic knowledge in and around the IFSA community; Marc Barbier, Marianne Bompart, Véronique Garandel-Batifol, and Andréi Mogoutov
5. Methodological themes in Farming Systems Research and implications for learning in higher education; David Gibbon
Part II: State of the art and key issues
6. How should we farm? The ethical dimension of farming systems; Richard Bawden
7. Systems practice: Making the systems in Farming Systems Research effective; Ray Ison
8. The role of action-oriented learning theories for change in agriculture and rural networks; Chris Blackmore, Marianne Cerf, Ray Ison, and Mark Paine
9. Learning in European agricultural and rural networks: Building a systemic research agenda; Bernard Hubert, Ray Ison, Nadarajah Sriskandarajah, Chris Blackmore, Marianne Cerf, Isabelle Avelange, Marc Barbier, and Patrick Steyaert
10. Extension systems and change facilitation for agricultural and rural development; Artur Cristóvão, Alex Koutsouris, and Michael Kügler
11. Agri-food system and territorial development: Innovations, new dynamics and changing governance mechanisms; Claire Lamine, Henk Renting, Adanella Rossi, Han Wiskerke, and Gianluca Brunori
12. The Territory Agronomy Approach in research, education, and training; Sylvie Lardon, Anna-Camilla Moonen, Elisa Marraccini, Marta Debolini, Mariassunta Galli, and Salma Loudiyi
13. Simulation models in farming systems research: Potential and challenges; Giuseppe Feola, Claudia Sattler, and Ali Kerem Saysel
14. Reshaping boundaries between farming systems and the environment; Stéphane Bellon and Jean-Louis Hemptinne
Part III: Insights from system sciences and new perspectives
15. Dynamics in farming systems: of changes and choices; J.B. (Hans) Schiere, Ika Darnhofer, and Michel Duru
16. Farms and farmers facing change: The adaptive approach; Rebecka Milestad, Benoît Dedieu, Ika Darnhofer, and Stéphane Bellon
17. Observing farming systems: Insights from social systems theory; Egon Noe and Hugo F. Alrøe