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ARS Home » Plains Area » Mandan, North Dakota » Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #408892

Research Project: Sustainable Agricultural Systems for the Northern Great Plains

Location: Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory

Title: Creating change in agricultural systems 101: International travel as a significant life event

item Friedrichsen, Claire

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/20/2023
Publication Date: 9/20/2023
Citation: Friedrichsen, C.N. 2023. Creating change in agricultural systems 101: International travel as a significant life event. Meeting Abstract. 1.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: A limited number of tools exist to help farmers change their behavior to adopt sustainable agriculture. Most common tools for developing sustainable agricultural are to support research and voluntary cost share of practices with farmers. However, we need rapid change to address environmental and social sustainability in agriculture. The goal of this presentation is to give a basic understanding of behavior change science and how it applies to creating change in agricultural systems. A basic overview of several social science theories will be explored including mental models, agro-innovations, theory of planned behavior, social identity, transformative learning, and diffusion of innovations theories. The presentation will be concluded with an in-depth research case study examining international travel as an intervention for spurring adoption of sustainable agriculture. We examined the use of international travel as a tool to support sustainable agricultural adoption. Foreign travel is a part of agricultural leadership programs. Three agricultural leadership programs with foreign travel were compared and contrasted. The foreign travel ranged in length, purpose, and type. Thirty-six alumni of the three leadership programs were interviewed. The producers said the foreign travel was an important life event and a vital learning opportunity. The travel was described by two steps (1) discomfort, where the farmer abandoned their old beliefs, (2) a phase of learning through discussion with peers and making friends worldwide. This learning process was best supported by travel to diverse locations, living in the country, on-the-job training, and peer discussions. Producers said the foreign travel led them to adopt sustainable agriculture because of their personal growth. International travel is a tool that can support the adoption of sustainable agriculture.