The Importance of knowledge exchange as a method to help farmers transition to sustainable farming methods and mitigate climate change.
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Climate change is among the world’s greatest challenges in the 21st century. This research aimed to evaluate the opportunities for knowledge exchange to support farmers in the transition to more sustainable farming practices. This study used a mixed method analysis to understand current views on knowledge exchange and identify barriers and drivers for farmers to change practice specifically focused on the provision of advice. Key informant interviews were completed with a range of participants involved in sustainable agriculture. To complement opinions from the interviews, farmers were surveyed at three on-farm events and an online survey for farm advisors was completed. Thematic analysis using a realist approach was conducted and data coded and refined until key themes emerged. Key themes included the importance of framing technical information, the importance of trust and relationships, the use of demonstration and narrative, and the importance of sustaining projects over a long term to measure impact and support behavioural change. The on-farm events showed that farmers needed support to transition, and valued the demonstration and peer to peer learning brought about by the farmer hosts. Effective knowledge exchange is a crucial part of supporting farmers to achieve emissions reductions and improve sustainability and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Through understanding farmer motivations, framing the topics in a way which makes sense, using trusted advisors and tested dissemination networks, and developing robust metrics that show impact, the industry can achieve real change.
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