Pathways to resilience in small-scale farming - The case of England
Small-scale agricultural practices gained importance in recent years due to the growing awareness of the role smallholder farmers can play in building resilient societies facing the impacts of climate change. The transition to more resilient systems presents several challenges. Two recent studies on small-scale arable and livestock farms in England have shown specific technical and practical challenges faced by farmers who decide to transition to low-input systems. Climate change affects smallholder farmers in terms of productivity, influencing their risk management strategies. Among primary concerns is the financial pressure, in particular under greater variability of productivity. Other factors playing a key role are represented by the networks of influence in which smallholder farmers operate. The British case studies highlight the importance of understanding the coping strategies smallholders tend to adopt when facing challenges related to climate change. Engaging in open and transparent collaboration with smallholders has proven beneficial in establishing spaces for interaction and knowledge brokerage, including researchers, policy-makers and the civil society. Case study research has helped identify opportunities for building resilient small-scale solutions. In the arable sector, solutions such as reduced tillage can help create better adaptation to changes in rainfall pattern, which can potentially promote greater yields. In the livestock sector, pasture-based systems on rich, biodiverse grassland have the potential to improve productivity. Context-based solutions in terms of grazing patterns and feeding strategies (i.e. grass mixes) can ensure the farm viability, while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the soil carbon sequestration potential. Small-scale agricultural practices have the potential to mitigate climate change and maintain the viability of smallholdings, but financial uncertainty and limited trust in advisory services, private and governmental alike, still affect the transition of small-scale farming systems.
Monday, 21 August
16:00 - 17:30
16:00 - 17:30