Info

• cut loses

• troubleshooting

• definition of zones of similar conditions

decision models decision models

Cellular

Plant

Month

Crop cycle

Several years

10 years

25 years

50 years

Plant-plant

Small plot

Field

Region

Plant

Plant-plant

Small plot

Field

Region

Month

Crop cycle

Several years

10 years

25 years

50 years

Figure 3.1 Location in time and space of scientist research topics (squares) and farmer interests (circles). (After Firbank, 1991.)

in any country based on their contrasting perspectives (Table 3.1), no knowledge community is rigid and unchanging. In practice, each community is a loose network of interacting individuals. These individuals face institutional rules or community traditions. In some interactions, individuals follow accepted procedures and reinforce the rules. In other instances, they resist rules and develop new agendas (Long, 1992). The incorporation of the concept of sus-tainability into agricultural science illustrates the dynamic nature of knowledge within a community. Originally a minority opinion, sustainability is now central to many debates on agricultural technology. The meaning of sustain-ability, however, is still being negotiated.

Each one of us, whether farmer, extensionist, scientist, or student, could draw a map of our perspectives on weed knowledge and management, what we consider the most important concepts, from whom we have learned, and with whom we consult (Engel, 1997, pp. 160-73). In making the map, each of us would demonstrate what and whom we consider important, also leaving a great deal off the map that others might include. Our maps would be a product of both our concrete experiences with weeds as well as with whom we have worked. Maps for two different individuals, even within knowledge communities, could be quite different.

Grouping similar maps serves to identify the networks that operate within knowledge communities. Networks are subunits of knowledge communities characterized by different repertoires or local application of knowledge (Long & Villareal, 1994). Among weed researchers, the subunits include weed biologists, weed modelers, range scientists, and industry and public sector herbicide physiologists. Some researchers may also farm or do extension, and therefore overlap between two knowledge communities. Extensionist networks are often delimited by region and country, the specialization of client farmers, and the distinction between public sector and industry sales. Among farmers, networks may be local or regional and differ by farm size or crop mix. The role of family and gender in farmer networks varies greatly among regions and cultures. In western Sudan, a vegetable project initiated work with male extensionists training male farmers, only to discover later that most crop production was managed by the women of the community (Ishag et al., 1997). Gender and culture also shape knowledge communities in research (Hess, 1995, pp. 27-32).

This description of knowledge communities is pertinent to improving weed management. To reduce crop losses to weeds and the costs of their control, the three communities must have effective and productive linkages. Formal linkages through systems of research and extension have used different modalities such as technology transfer, training and visit, and more recently participation (Roling, 1988, pp. 36-62). Interfaces between knowledge communities, however, are just as often characterized by gaps, discontinuities, and differences, precisely because they represent the point of contact between communities with contrasting objectives and procedures for generating knowledge (Long & Villareal, 1994). These discontinuities may be significant when indigenous farm communities interface with government extension services staffed with urban-born technicians who have limited field experience, not an uncommon situation in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Cultural and class prejudices, mutual lack of respect, and divergent interests in such cases may produce reinforcing negative images and limit productive interaction. Even when farmers, extensionists, and scientists have a common culture and similar preferences in crop technology, each sector uses different portions of the total pool of weed management knowledge. For example, as shown in the case study from Iowa in this chapter, the three communities often disagree about which knowledge is more relevant and about which themes need further attention.

Fortunately, just as knowledge communities change internally based on the social interactions among their groups and individuals, the way they interface also changes. To reduce crop losses to weeds and the costs of weed control, effective work at the interface between farmers, extension, and research is crucial (Engel, 1997, pp. 21-44). Both the nature of weeds and the demands of decision-making in crop production indicate directions for more effective interactions among farmers, extensionists, and scientists.

Growing Soilless

Growing Soilless

This is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to growing organic, healthy vegetable, herbs and house plants without soil. Clearly illustrated with black and white line drawings, the book covers every aspect of home hydroponic gardening.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment