Cognitive mapping of organic vegetable production in Flanders to support farmers' strategy design

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Abstract

Organic farmers inherently have to cope with complex farming system processes. Next to pursuing economic performance, farm management also encompasses optimization of the farm’s ecological and social performance. For considering multiple criteria, the farmer needs a thorough knowledge on the highly interactive aspects of his production system. Furthermore, successful strategy design includes decisions at different levels -from field to marketwithin the farming system. To support strategic decisions, this study aims at modelling the key aspects and their interrelations for successful organic vegetable production in Flanders. We used the qualitative cognitive mapping approach to represent and visualize the expert knowledge
from different stakeholder groups (advisors, farm networks, research and educational institutions). Through in-depth interviews, experts were questioned on the key aspects of a successful organic farm management and how these aspects relate to each other. Next, the individual cognitive maps from the different interviewees were merged to build a social cognitive map. The strength of the relations between aspects reveals hot spots within the organic vegetable production. Preliminary results show that weed control, crop rotation and marketing channel are examples of central aspects. At sector
level, the results will clarify strengths and weaknesses of organic vegetable production in Flanders. At farm level, focusing on one or more of the hot spots, while respecting its position in the organic farming system, can be helpful towards more adequate strategy design. The cognitive maps might serve as a communication tool for farmers and their advisors, or as a first step towards prospective or scenario evaluations when implementing new strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2015
EventVIII International Symposium on Irrigation of Horticultural Crops - Avignon, France
Duration: 8-Jun-201512-Jun-2015

Conference

ConferenceVIII International Symposium on Irrigation of Horticultural Crops
CountryFrance
CityAvignon
Period8/06/1512/06/15

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