Traditional agricultural science can often take a linear approach: knowledge is shared from scientists to farmers, who might then adopt one change and observe the result. This process often takes months or years.
This suggests that research into regenerative agriculture demands a ‘complexity aware’ approach, in which farmers are research partners, and knowledge comes from multiple research disciplines and other sources of innovation (such as business or technology). Farmers might adopt several changes at once, so it’s much harder to draw a straight line from one change to one outcome.
The challenge for researchers is to deploy robust, rigorous, and replicable experimental approaches – while also accounting for uncertainty, changeability and complexity. This approach to research requires curiosity, open-mindedness, and working together.
This report is the first of a series of topic reports written as part of a project on Regenerative Agriculture (RA) in Aotearoa New Zealand. This project aimed to provide a framework that can be used to develop a scientific evidence base and research questions specific to RA, with relevance to a wide range of end users, including academic researchers and farmers. It was initiated in response to New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries seeking to assess the potential benefits (or drawbacks) of RA. It is the result of a large collaborative effort across the New Zealand agrifood system over the course of 6 months in 2020 that included representatives of the research community, farming industry bodies, farmers and RA practitioners, consultants, governmental organisations, and the social/environmental entrepreneurial sector.
Contract Report LC3954-0