Submitted to: Agronomy Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The complexity of agricultural issues is stimulating scientists and practitioners to question current methods of scientific inquiry. The conventional model of research treats members of communities and organizations as passive subjects who contribute little to the research process and receive results disseminated by agricultural experts. The conventional model contrasts sharply with Participatory Action Research (PAR), a systems-based approach, where members of the studied group are actively engaged in the quest for knowledge to help guide their actions. In PAR, a conversation is initiated between scientists and farmers who are experiencing a problematic situation. The objective of this conversation is to gain a more holistic understanding of the problematic situation, allow cooperative research ideas to emerge, and to originate joint research activities. We initiated 12 conversations with farmers in southwest Minnesota on topics concerning their soil management history and soil observations. Soil samples were also collected from catenas on six farms to evaluate soil quality measures. This information was brought back to the farmers for further discussion and evaluated in the context of the farming system. Emerging from this process are soft and hard systems research methods applicable to agriculture. We will present our and the farmers experience with the PAR model.