Spin-off papers

Find below the spin-off papers written by SURE-Farm partners contributing to the literature on the resilience of the agricultural sector.

Miranda P.M. Meuwissen et al., 2019. A framework to assess the resilience of farming systems, Agricultural Systems, Volume 176.

Agricultural systems in Europe face accumulating economic, ecological and societal challenges, raising concerns about their resilience to shocks and stresses. These resilience issues need to be addressed with a focus on the regional context in which farming systems operate because farms, farmers' organizations, service suppliers and supply chain actors are embedded in local environments and functions of agriculture. We define resilience of a farming system as its ability to ensure the provision of the system functions in the face of increasingly complex and accumulating economic, social, environmental and institutional shocks and stresses, through capacities of robustness, adaptability and transformability. We (i) develop a framework to assess the resilience of farming systems, and (ii) present a methodology to operationalize the framework with a view to Europe's diverse farming systems. The framework is designed to assess resilience to specific challenges (specified resilience) as well as a farming system's capacity to deal with the unknown, uncertainty and surprise (general resilience). The framework provides a heuristic to analyze system properties, challenges (shocks, long-term stresses), indicators to measure the performance of system functions, resilience capacities and resilience-enhancing attributes. Capacities and attributes refer to adaptive cycle processes of agricultural practices, farm demographics, governance and risk management. The novelty of the framework pertains to the focal scale of analysis, i.e. the farming system level, the consideration of accumulating challenges and various agricultural processes, and the consideration that farming systems provide multiple functions that can change over time. Furthermore, the distinction between three resilience capacities (robustness, adaptability, transformability) ensures that the framework goes beyond narrow definitions that limit resilience to robustness. The methodology deploys a mixed-methods approach: quantitative methods, such as statistics, econometrics and modelling, are used to identify underlying patterns, causal explanations and likely contributing factors; while qualitative methods, such as interviews, participatory approaches and stakeholder workshops, access experiential and contextual knowledge and provide more nuanced insights. More specifically, analysis along the framework explores multiple nested levels of farming systems over a time horizon of 1–2 generations, thereby enabling reflection on potential temporal and scalar trade-offs across resilience attributes. The richness of the framework is illustrated for the arable farming system in Veenkoloniën, the Netherlands. The analysis reveals a relatively low capacity of this farming system to transform and farmers feeling distressed about transformation, while other members of their households have experienced many examples of transformation.

Franziska Appel, Alfons Balmann, 2019. Human behaviour versus optimising agents and the resilience of farms – Insights from agent-based participatory experiments with FarmAgriPoliS, Ecological Complexity, Volume 40, Part B.

This paper aims to examine the extent to which human participants show higher resilience compared to computer agents in agent-based participatory experiments. We motivate and examine three types of resilient behaviour of farmers during a crisis or as response to competitive pressure: successful survival, loss-minimising farm exits, and path breaking respectively path creating growth strategies. Our experiments revealed that human decision makers recognised and exploited such resilient strategies in periods of crisis or under challenging circumstances in general better than myopic optimising agents, although they did not perform better on average. The reason can be seen in a substantial heterogeneity of human decision makers, for which we identified four categories: negligent gamblers, actors missing opportunities, solid farm managers and successful path breakers.

Hermine Mitter et al., 2019. A protocol to develop Shared Socio-economic Pathways for European agriculture, Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 252.

Moving towards a more sustainable future requires concerted actions, particularly in the context of global climate change. Integrated assessments of agricultural systems (IAAS) are considered valuable tools to provide sound information for policy and decision-making. IAAS use storylines to define socio-economic and environmental framework assumptions. While a set of qualitative global storylines, known as the Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs), is available to inform integrated assessments at large scales, their spatial resolution and scope is insufficient for regional studies in agriculture. We present a protocol to operationalize the development of Shared Socio-economic Pathways for European agriculture – Eur-Agri-SSPs – to support IAAS. The proposed design of the storyline development process is based on six quality criteria: plausibility, vertical and horizontal consistency, salience, legitimacy, richness and creativity. Trade-offs between these criteria may occur. The process is science-driven and iterative to enhance plausibility and horizontal consistency. A nested approach is suggested to link storylines across scales while maintaining vertical consistency. Plausibility, legitimacy, salience, richness and creativity shall be stimulated in a participatory and interdisciplinary storyline development process. The quality criteria and process design requirements are combined in the protocol to increase conceptual and methodological transparency. The protocol specifies nine working steps. For each step, suitable methods are proposed and the intended level and format of stakeholder engagement are discussed. A key methodological challenge is to link global SSPs with regional perspectives provided by the stakeholders, while maintaining vertical consistency and stakeholder buy-in. We conclude that the protocol facilitates systematic development

Termeer, C.J.A.M. et al., 2019. Institutions and the resilience of biobased production systems: the historical case of livestock intensification in the Netherlands, Ecology and Society 24 (4).

Disconnects between farming and urban systems are widely seen as impairing the resilience of biobased production systems (BBPSs). However, the institutional mechanisms that underlie these resilience problems are not well understood. In this explorative paper, which integrates elements from institutional and resilience theory, we develop a framework to analyze how institutionally shaped patterns of connects and disconnects affect the resilience of BBPs along the dimensions of robustness, adaptability, and transformability. This framework is applied to the historical case of pig livestock intensification in the Netherlands from 1870 to 2017. The case shows that institutions, successfully established in earlier periods, shape connects and disconnects in subsequent periods, thereby enabling and constraining resilience. A combination of perturbations, institutional layering, and shifts in ideational power is an important institutional mechanism for resilience. We conclude that building resilience requires a variety of reconnecting institutions and refraining from a focus on local reconnects or certification only.

Nera, E. et al., 2020. Assessing the Resilience and Sustainability of a Hazelnut Farming System in Central Italy with a Participatory Approach, Sustainability, 12, 343.

European agriculture is facing increasing economic, environmental, institutional, and social challenges, from changes in demographic trends to the effects of climate change. In this context of high instability, the agricultural sector in Europe needs to improve its resilience and sustainability. Local assessments and strategies at the farming system level are needed, and this paper focuses on a hazelnut farming system in central Italy. For the assessment, a participatory approach was used, based on a stakeholder workshop. The results depicted a system with a strong economic and productive role, but which seems to overlook natural resources. This would suggest a relatively low environmental sustainability of the system, although the actual environmental impact of hazelnut farming is controversial. In terms of resilience, we assessed it by looking at the perceived level of three capacities: robustness, adaptability, and transformability. The results portrayed a highly robust system, but with relatively lower adaptability and transformability. Taking the farming system as the focal level was important to consider the role of different actors. While mechanisation has played a central role in enhancing past and present system resilience, future improvements can be achieved through collective strategies and system diversification, and by strengthening the local hazelnut value chain.