Reconciling holistic management practice and science (2015-)
This SSHRC Insight Grant-funded (2015-2019) work builds on my Australian post-doc, and was inspired by engagement with the resilience literature (Abson et al. in press) and push-back from experimental scientists about my policy endorsement of holistic management (Sherren et al. 2012). Holistic management (HM) is an approach to grazing decision-making based on explicit goal-setting and careful monitoring, often characterized by native pastures and high-intensity but short-duration rotational grazing. Science is thus far divided on its utility: experimental scientists see no benefits from the constituent practices in controlled experiments, while management-oriented agricultural scientists report benefits at the farm scale. To date, farmer experience and perceptions have been neglected. We have particular interest in understanding and resolving the schism (Sherren and Kent, 2017), particularly as relates to the potential utility of such approaches for climate adaptation in various regions.
This project will combine quantitative and qualitative social, policy and information science, grounded with insights from field ecology, spatial and agricultural science. The project will have scholarly and practical impacts: drawing a comprehensive picture of a polarized field of study; establishing the value of qualitative methods and farmer perceptions in agricultural science; and, exploring HM as a viable climate adaptation strategy across several regions. This will include case study work in the Canadian Prairies (led by co-applicant John Parkins with collaborator Ed Bork), bibliometrics and policy analysis (with collaborator Bertrum MacDonald), engagement with HM trainers and trainees (with Marney Isaac), along with an OECD-funded investigation of HM in the Falklands.
Mann, C. and Sherren, K. 2018. Holistic Management and adaptive grazing: A trainers’ view. Sustainability, 10(6), 1848 (Special issue on Agroecology for the Transition towards Social-Ecological Sustainability). OPEN ACCESS
Sherren, K. and Darnhofer, I. 2018. Precondition for integration: in support of stand-alone social science in rangeland and silvopastoral research. Rangeland Ecology and Management 71(5), 545-548. [See also Ika’s blog post at Medium]
Sherren, K. and Kent. C. 2017. Who’s afraid of Allan Savory? Scientometric polarization on Holistic Management as competing understandings. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.
Abson, D., Sherren, K and Fischer, J. In press. The resilience of Australian agricultural landscapes characterized by land sparing versus land sharing. Agricultural Resilience: Perspectives from Ecology and Economics, Invited chapter, BES Ecological Reviews book series, Cambridge University Press and the British Ecological Society. [This chapter was submitted and accepted in 2014; production delays suggest release in early 2018]
Sherren, K., J. Fischer, I. Fazey. 2012. Managing the grazing landscape: Insights for agricultural adaptation from a mid-drought photo-elicitation study in the Australian sheep-wheat belt. Agricultural Systems Vol. 106, No. 1, pp. 72-83.
Posters and Presentations
Sherren, K. and Delignieres, M. 2017. Tradition, Place and Change: Livestock Farming in the Falkland Islands. Presented to International Symposium on Society and Resource Management, June 19-22, 2017, in Umea, Sweden.
Kent, C. and Sherren, K. 2016. Who’s Afraid of Allan Savory? Probing the impact of one influential author. Poster presented at Society for Range Management Annual Meeting, February 2, 2016, Corpus Christi, Texas.
Kent, C. and Sherren, K. 2017. The View from the Farm Sector: Discourse in Producer Organizations around Climate, Science and Agricultural Policy, 2010-2015. RHoMPAS Report 3, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, pp. 61.
Kent, C. and Sherren, K. 2016. Rhetorical Analysis of Practitioner Discourse: Examining the impact in holistic management and permaculture. RHoMPAS Report 2, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, pp. 48.
Kent, C. and Sherren, K. 2015. Who’s Afraid of Allan Savory? Probing the impact of one influential author. RHoMPAS Report 1, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, pp. 52.
Sherren, K. 2018. The new battle for the Falklands. Canadian Notes and Queries. Winter issue, volume 101.
Wesley Tourangeau (PhD Waterloo) is a new postdoctoral fellow, joining the team in October 2017 to advance work on a number of fronts, including the Falklands qualitative data analysis.
Carolyn Mann, MSc, joined the team as a research associate in the fall of 2017, continuing into winter 2018. She is working on the training stream of this project, interviewing and using Q-method with HM trainers and trainees, and even engaging in HM training herself! After her contract with the project ends in May 2018, she takes up a role in Natural Resources Canada’s Policy Analyst Recruitment and Development Program (PARDP).
Seonaid MacDonell, MREM, carried out literature review on the influence of direct neighbours on farmer adoption as her final MREM project in fall of 2017. She was hired soon after graduation by Farm Safety Nova Scotia, within the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.
Sarbpreet Singh, MREM candidate 2017, joined the team as a research associate in the summer of 2017. He is undertaking research on discourse around rotational grazing and climate change in farming magazines, as well as developing a glossary of rotational grazing terminology.
Kristine Dahl, a rangeland health expert, is working on her Masters with SSHRC funding from this project, supervised by John Parkins and Ed Bork at the University of Alberta. She will be talking to HM and conventional graziers for her research project.
Carlisle Kent, joint MREM/MLIS graduate 2015, undertook the bibliometric work and other research assistance for her summer internship in 2015, followed by social media research on rhetoric in HM and permaculture for her final project. She completed an analysis of policy engagement by farming bodies to understand how they perceive climate change and related grazing issues in spring 2016, before leaving the team to work at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
Ruoqian (Joy) Wang, was funded by the Mitacs Globalink program to visit Dalhousie in Summer 2015 to analyze Australian ecology data to establish whether any vegetation changes have resulted from different grazing practices. She put Google Earth Pro, specifically the historical images option, to great use. She completed her undergraduate degree at Sichuan University in China, has now returned to Dalhousie for her MES and is working on change in forested wetlands, working with Karen Harper.