Styles of farm and landscape management: Impacts on ecological, environmental and socio-economic dimensions of agro-ecosystems

Supervisors

Jeroen Groot (FSE Wageningen UR)
Jan Douwe van der Ploeg (Rural Sociology Wageningen UR)

Introduction

Farming styles refers to the concept that farmers have consistent patterns of management that are expressed in relations between inputs (e.g. fertilization, tillage, weed and pest control measures, etc.) and outputs (production, ecological en environmental indicators, etc.). In the long run, the activities of the farmer have an influence on for instance his herd (through the selection process), the soil (organic matter management), crop and animal productivity, the surrounding landscape etc. Thus, the biological and social processes and interrelations on farms are considered as the outcomes of activities of farmers, which reflect their objectives, attitudes and skills. A farming style indicates with which strategies a farmer ‘survives’ as an entrepreneur and maintains his farming business.

Farming styles can be derived from quantitative farm data or a combination of quantitative and qualitative data, the latter obtained in interviews. In this project farming styles are mapped in the landscape of a case study area (using GIS), and the consequences for agro-ecosystem characteristics, including landscape character and biodiversity conservation, are evaluated.

Objective

Analysis of farming styles as expressed by farmers in rural landscapes and quantification of the effects of the styles of farming and landscape management (and possible changes therein) on agro-ecosystem characteristics.

Procedures

  • Characterization of farmers and their farms and the surrounding landscapes by on-farm data collection, use of existing data bases, interviews and (grey) literature study
  • Quantification of interrelations between the social and bio-physical aspects of farming systems, using statistical techniques such as clustering
  • Optional: exploratory modelling to find promising landscape scale management configurations, using the existing Landscape IMAGES framework

Experiences gained

  • Preparation of a detailed proposal
  • Social and agronomic data collection procedures
  • Interviewing farmers and other relevant stakeholders
  • Working in a case study region
  • Data handling, analysis and statistical techniques, GIS
  • Writing an MSc thesis (and preferably a manuscript for a journal) in English