The fundamental challenge in developing a new farming system is to have it adopted and maintained by farmers. The difficulty of achieving widespread adoption is increased if the new farming system is complex and/or radically different to current farming practice. This paper is a review of these issues with a focus on farming systems based on mimicry of natural ecosystems. It is proposed that there are four conditions which are necessary for an individual farmer to adopt an innovative farming-system: awareness of the innovation, perception that it is feasible to trial the innovation, perception that the innovation is worth trialing, and perception that the innovation promotes the farmer's objectives. Challenges involved in meeting each of these conditions are discussed. It is concluded that the most important challenges in developed countries are: (a) developing a farming system that is in fact more profitable than current practice; (b) assessing whether a system is in fact more profitable than current practice; and (c) overcoming the problem of deep uncertainty about the technology. In developing countries one must add the additional challenges of (d) high interest rates/high discount rates; and (e) insecure or inequitable land tenure.
|Publication status||Published - 1999|