Combining scientific and lay knowledges - Participatory approaches to research in organic farming.
This chapter explores the issues of different types of knowledge and how they can be used to complement each other in organic farming research. Two specific issues are addressed: (1) what types of research and informal learning are carried out by farmers, and (2) how can farmers' own research add to and complement more traditional scientific methods of research? The chapter is based on research undertaken in 2003-04, which involved semi-structured interviews with a sample of 30 farmers and other agri-businesses in East Anglia and South West England. It is revealed that all farmers in the survey undertook some form of 'research', deploying a range of knowledge-generating practices from overt field experimentation mirroring scientific studies to more implicit, tacit assessment approaches. Farmer-scientist research collaboration was also common but is hampered by different priorities and an underestimation of farmers' existing research practices. The chapter concludes by advocating the extension of participatory research programmes to help generate more effective organic farming knowledge.