The social-ecological effects of agricultural intensification are complex. We explore farmers’ perceptions about the impacts of their land management and the impact of social information flows on their management through a case study in a farming community in Navarra, Spain, that is undergoing agricultural intensification due to adoption of large scale irrigation. We found that modern technology adopters are aware that their management practices often have negative social-ecological implications; by contrast, more traditional farmers tend to recognize their positive impacts on non-material benefits such as those linked with traditions and traditional knowledge, and climate regulation. We found that farmers’ awareness about nature contributions to people co-production and their land management decisions determine, in part, the structure of the social networks among the farming community. Since modern farmers are at the core of the social network, they are better able to control the information flow within the community. This has important implications, such as the fact that the traditional farmers, who are more aware of their impacts on the environment, rely on information controlled by more intensive modern farmers, potentially jeopardizing sustainable practices in this region. We suggest that this might be counteracted by helping traditional farmers obtain information tailored to their practices from outside the social network.

Abstract:

The social-ecological effects of agricultural intensification are complex. We explore farmers’ perceptions about the impacts of their land management and the impact of social information flows on their management through a case study in a farming community in Navarra, Spain, that is undergoing agricultural intensification due to adoption of large scale irrigation. We found that modern technology adopters are aware that their management practices often have negative social-ecological implications; by contrast, more traditional farmers tend to recognize their positive impacts on non-material benefits such as those linked with traditions and traditional knowledge, and climate regulation. We found that farmers’ awareness about nature contributions to people co-production and their land management decisions determine, in part, the structure of the social networks among the farming community. Since modern farmers are at the core of the social network, they are better able to control the information flow within the community. This has important implications, such as the fact that the traditional farmers, who are more aware of their impacts on the environment, rely on information controlled by more intensive modern farmers, potentially jeopardizing sustainable practices in this region. We suggest that this might be counteracted by helping traditional farmers obtain information tailored to their practices from outside the social network.

I found this paper to be a fascinating read which has interesting conclusions and illustrates many of the dynamics of making agricultural decisions. My background is in microbiology so the methodology is outside my usual expertise; I would love to see what others think.

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