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The possibilities to introduce DISCUSS in learning networks are investigated using an interactive, participatory methodology. Both the methodology and the results will be discussed.

DISCUSS, the Dual Indicator Set for Sustainable Crop protection Sustainability Surveys, was designed to help farmers achieve more sustainable crop protection (Wustenberghs et al., 2012). DISCUSS was developed for use in learning networks of farmers. Indicator results, in particular the differences between farms, are intended as a starting point and a structuring element for the discussion. In previous research such peer interaction not only fostered learning about more sustainable alternatives, it also initiated changes in attitudes and behaviours, thus providing leverage for increased sustainability.
The design of DISCUSS was expert driven. The indicator set aims to cover all important aspects of crop protection. It therefore pairs risk indicators with response indicators. Risk for human health and the environment exerted by chemical crop protection is quantified by POCER, the Pesticide OCcupational and Environmental Risk indicators (Vercruysse and Steurbaut, 2002). Farmers’ response to this risk, both in terms of their management actions and their knowledge, awareness and attitude, is revealed by a questionnaire. POCER covers 12 human and environmental compartments; the questionnaire contains 12 themes, each measured by a number of items. The complexity of the indicator set, necessary to cover the multi-facetted issue at hand, might however contradict the ultimate goal of indicators “to simplify information about complex phenomena to improve communication”.
This paper discusses ways to summarise the information in DISCUSS for introduction in farmers’ discussion groups. Attracting interest requires a simple representation, even when further on in the discussion farmers might ask for insight into the underlying indicators. One way to simplify indicator sets is aggregating them into a composite indicator. Composite indicators have the advantage to (1) summarise multi-dimensional issues; (2) provide the big picture, ease interpretation and facilitate ranking; (3) help attract interest. Composing an aggregate DISCUSS indicator first requires expressing all sub-indicators in a common unit. Second, all risk indicators and questionnaire themes need to be weighted against each other. The weighted sum then results in an aggregate value. Moreover, the attributed weights support the decision support function of DISCUSS, as the largest weights indicate priorities for transforming management practices. Another way to simplify indicator sets is their visual presentation. This should both provide an overview of the own situation at a glance and allow quick comparison with the peers.
The possibilities to introduce DISCUSS in learning networks are investigated using an interactive, participatory methodology. Both the methodology and the results will be discussed.
Vertaalde titel van de bijdrageVoorstelling van de DISCUSS indicator in discussiegroepen van landbouwers
Originele taal-2Engels
TijdschriftCommunications in Agricultural and Applied Biological Sciences
Volume79
Nummer van het tijdschrift3
Pagina's (van-tot)569
Aantal pagina's1
ISSN1379-1176
StatusGepubliceerd - mei-2014
Event66th International Symposium on Crop Protection - Gent, België
Duur: 20-mei-201420-mei-2014
http://www.iscp.ugent.be/

ID: 3297666