Main research question/goal
Using the attractive title “Café” this project examines to what extent discussion groups are important in farmers’ learning processes. Can the Monitoring Tool for Integrated Farm Sustainability (MOTIFS) provide a useful instrument for such discussion groups? Can it help the Flemish government’s Division for Agricultural Policy Analysis to provide better services to the farmers in the Flemish Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN)? And vice versa, can the FADN, representative for our agricultural and horticultural sector, provide the necessary data to calculate the indicators in MOTIFS?
Our final goal is to provide farmers with an objective tool that can stimulate them - through participative processes - to increase the sustainability of their production.Research approach
Together with the Division for Agricultural Policy Analysis (AMS) we are organising discussion groups. Each group comprises about ten specialised dairy farmers, who meet several times per year. We discuss different aspects of sustainable farm management. For each farm we calculate the indicators for MOTIFS from their FADN data. We let the farmers discuss their MOTIFS results and exchange experiences. During each meeting we discuss a farm sustainability theme and each time we invite an expert who can carry the discussion. To evaluate whether changes in knowledge and/or perception take place among the farmers, we interview them before and after a series of discussion groups.Relevance/Valorisation
The project serves as a learning process, both for the farmers and for the researchers. The former gain an understanding of the sustainability of their farming practices and of means to improve them, the latter learn about the preconditions for the implementation of MOTIFS. The project provides an interesting case, both for ILVO to test an interactive learning process based on MOTIFS in practice and for AMS to valorise Flemish FADN for services to farmers. If the learning process proves useful and when the methodology is validated, similar processes can be developed for other farm types and they can become part of AMS’s services.