The indicator set discuss: first learning steps toward practice

Hilde Wustenberghs, Ilse Delcour, Tessa De Baets, Charles de Schaetzen , Karoline D'Haene, Ludwig Lauwers, Fleur Marchand, Nicole Taragola, Walter Steurbaut, Pieter Spanoghes

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DISCUSS, the Dual Indicator Set for Sustainable Crop protection Sustainability Surveys, was designed to help farmers achieve more sustainable crop protection (Wustenberghs et al., 2012). The indicator set pairs a risk indicator with a response indicator. POCER, the Pesticide OCcupational and Environmental Risk indicator (Vercruysse and Steurbaut, 2002), quantifies risk for human health and the environment exerted by chemical crop protection. An inquiry reveals farmers’ response to this risk, both in terms of their management actions and their knowledge, awareness and attitude.
While DISCUSS is predominantly meant to be a learning instrument for farmers, the phase between design table and practical use is mainly characterized by intensive learning on the researchers’ side, as insight needs to be gained in its operational mechanisms and conditions. First, farmers’ ability and willingness to fill out the extensive inquiry is examined in a test set up and in respondent interviews. Second, variation within actual farm data is calculated for all the parts of DISCUSS. Variation needs to be sufficiently large to make discussion worthwhile. Third, insight is needed into the correlations and trade-offs between the POCER risk indicators, between the inquiry themes and between POCER and the inquiry. A last matter of concern is the way results are reported. While scientifically correct, results need to appeal to farmers and incite them to participate in sustainability assessment, to reflect about their crop protection management, discuss it with their peers, and ultimately to take actions to improve sustainability.
Insights gained while testing DISCUSS on Flemish fruit farms will be presented.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunications in Agricultural and Applied Biological Sciences
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)50
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event65th International Symposium on Crop Protection (2013) - Gent, Belgium
Duration: 21-May-201321-May-2013


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