The Belgium case study focus on transition pathways of soil management in the new context of individual and collective and public policies developing “conservation agriculture” (see http://www.agriculture-de-conservation.com/, “Simplified Cropping Techniques or zero tillage approaches”). The objective is through a micro-historical sequences analysis of collective innovation to understand how new practices around conservation agriculture open space of new meaning of the soil for farmers, local public authority/residents and regional policy.
Through the study of transition trajectories, the Belgium team will
- Analyse the different soil qualities in the case as they are identified and experienced by researchers and stakeholders
- Analyse the conditions for an integration of new soil challenges (biodiversity, climate change, ecosystemic, cultural, identity and social… services) in agricultural soil management of conservation agriculture
- Analyse the successes and failures of the regional approaches for integrated approach of qualities and functions of cultivated soil
The theorical framework of analysis is the Transition Management Theory. It is inspired by evolutionary economist and innovation sociology and has been set-up firstly in Netherland as a framework of cooperation between scientist, managers and administrations to understand the dynamics of changes towards sustainable development (Grin et al. 2010) . Transition management is consider as a multilevel (institution, sectors, niche innovation) process and a multi historical sequences process.
The research will investigate the conditions and means of a comprehensive and sustainable management of soil quality, encompassing a variety of soil functions through a case study. The case will present complementary opportunities with the French and Dutch cases to learn from a specific context, with different challenges.
The case study will consider a successful transition trajectory around soil meaning, value and management.
In Wallonia, 47% of the Used Agriculture Area is “Field crops”. Conjuncture of the last years has lead to adaptation/transformation of the production systems: 15 – 25% of wheat crop is under “Simplified Cropping techniques” and 5% of crop production has moved to zero tillage production systems. The change is a systemic change including multiple stakes: energetic and climatic issues, local flooding and soil erosion issue, zero pesticides (round up) and organic fertilizer, green cover innovative practices, soil biodiversity by restoration of the soil biotic activity, worm biodiversity etc.
The case will be a multilevel transition case that will focus his analysis on Greenotech.be ASBL. Greenotech is since 15 years the unique association at the Walloon region scale, that lead the transition towards zero tillage. Therefore Greenotech has settled experimental platforms and a frame of extension. In consequence Greenotech has build a network of more than 200 farmers that are on the pathway of conservation agriculture transition. More recently, Greenotech has set up contract with local municipalities that are confronted with mud floods to connect floods issue with cropping practices. Greenotech has also a tradition of cooperation with researchers but not yet with socio-economist scientists.
The research will develop in several stages :
- Synthesis of the strategy for soil quality management in Belgium (state of the art of available research, notably from previous SNOWMAN research)
- Identification of one field with challenges as regards soil quality and function;
- Identification of the main stakeholders involved and concerned on the different soil qualities and functions stakes of soil (e. g. agriculture, water management, land planning, biodiversity, climate change…)
- Analysis of the different qualities of soil as they are identified and experienced by researchers and stakeholders
- Conduct of semi-structured interviews with 20 of these stakeholders, on the basis of innovation sociology approach and evolutionary.
- Draft report of a case study report outlining:
- the innovation pathway and the transformation in the soil quality and function, with attention on sectorial/systemic lock-in and multi- stakeholder dynamics
- a multi-level diagnosis of the dynamics that have been developed on policy – sectorial and experimental scale. This include the way that change was made in practice
- Forecasting: reporting stakeholders’ analysis on the likely evolution of the situation in terms of issues at stakes, threats and assets
- Action : stakeholders’ objectives and propositions, in terms of strategy and actions, to address the issue of comprehensive and sustainable soil quality
The case study will report a transition trajectory around soil meaning, value and management.
Stakeholders will be involved at two stages of the research:
- Greenotech will be involved in the conception of the research questions of the case study. Some previous contact has showed a clear interest of the association.
- Greenotech, Walloon administration and other actors to be identified , will be involved within a final workshop to draw first conclusion on the case study.
In the course of the interviews stakeholders will be invited to participate in the final integration workshop of the whole SAS-STRAT project. It is expected that 5 to 10 of them will be involved.