Cognitive Mapping of Organic Vegetable Production in Flanders to Support Farmers' Strategy Design

Matthias Strubbe, Jo Bijttebier, Jef Van Meensel, Fleur Marchand, Ludwig Lauwers

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Organic farmers inherently have to cope with complex agricultural production system processes. Next to pursuing economic performance, farm management also encompasses optimization of the farm’s ecological and social performance. The question rises on how to maintain a certain balance between the multiple purposes. For this consideration, the farmer and as well researcher need to understand the logic of the system. To support decisions, this study aims at modelling the key elements and their inter-relations for successful organic vegetable production in Flanders. For this research a model was constructed based on the qualitative cognitive mapping technique. Cognitive mapping can be used to develop maps of socio-ecological systems based on people’s knowledge of ecosystems (Özesmi and Özesmi, 2004 and Fairweather, 2010). Different stakeholder groups (advisors, farm networks, research and educational institutions) were interviewed in order to represent and visualize their expert knowledge. Through in-depth interviews, experts were questioned on the key elements 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 social cognitive map represents the perception of the stakeholders on the agricultural production system. Preliminary results show the social cognitive map covers a broad range of key elements (economic, agro-technical and biophysical factors, next to a few social factors) The central aspects within the agricultural production system, determining the structure, are crop choice, crop rotation, marketing and technology and mechanization.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2015
EventVIII International Symposium on Irrigation of Horticultural Crops - Avignon, France
Duration: 8-Jun-201512-Jun-2015


ConferenceVIII International Symposium on Irrigation of Horticultural Crops


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