Interdisciplinary research programmes in agricultural sciences have increasingly gained momentum to address complicated challenges and to cover the multiple facets of complex problems. Crop disease management is a good example of a complex problem that constantly requires rapid responses. Approaching crop disease management with a combination of disciplines, in particular from the plant, environmental and social sciences, enables this.
A key question is whether integrative research would benefit from a systematic methodological pluralism that goes beyond simply connecting disciplinary conceptualisations and methods. The paper uses the re-emergence and rapid global spread of the Panama disease in banana, affecting subsistence farming and export-oriented mono-cropping, to examine an integrative research framework that links distinct methodological perspectives.
We propose a focus on multiple drivers, solutions, scales, actors and causalities as organising principle for integrative research programmes. This recognises the contingent nature of complex problems and creates space for conceiving solutions as configurations that work in specific, many-sided realities.