Agricultural decision support systems facilitating co-learning: a case study on environmental impacts of sugarcane production

Thorburn, P.J., Jakku, E., Webster, A.J., and Everingham, Y.L. (2011) Agricultural decision support systems facilitating co-learning: a case study on environmental impacts of sugarcane production. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 9 (2). pp. 322-333.

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Decision support systems (DSSs) are one of the ways in which agricultural scientists have attempted to make agricultural systems science more accessible to farmers and to foster innovation. Recently, there has been a shift towards more participatory processes in development and application of DSSs to enhance their end-user use. Apart from increasing adoption, these participatory processes are also likely to enhance co-learning resulting from development/application of DSSs. Learning is a valuable process in increasing sustainability of natural resource management, so the application of DSSs in a learning context can make a contribution to the global challenges faced by agriculture. We developed a framework, using concepts drawn from social studies of science and technology, describing the phases of the participatory DSS development/application process and its likely outcomes. We analysed experiences of participants in a case study exploring more sustainable management of nitrogen fertilizer in sugarcane production in an environmentally sensitive area of northeastern Australia. The data illustrate theoretical constructs underpinning the framework and learning processes within the case study. The framework and case study results demonstrate the value of participatory DSS development/application as a co-learning process, an outcome not traditionally valued by agricultural DSS developers and one that is likely to help address the challenges faced by agricultural sustainability.

Item ID: 20778
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1747-762X
Keywords: APSIM; boundary object; climate variability; Great Barrier Reef; nitrogen; science and technology studies; social learning
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2012 05:04
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070104 Agricultural Spatial Analysis and Modelling @ 100%
SEO Codes: 82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8206 Harvesting and Packing of Plant Products > 820603 Sugar Cane (Cut for Crushing) @ 100%
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