Happy to announce another paper out of our Reconciling HM project, based on work Carolyn Mann led after her MSc. Our overarching question for her work has been, “are HM farmers born or made?” and that has indeed been an elusive question to answer. We started by talking to HM trainers across North America, and certainly learned that the paradigmatic shifts are seen as the most important by trainers but also more challenging to teach and to adopt than grazing skills; that work was published in Sustainability last year.
This new paper, recently out in Ecology & Society, used Q method with a set of HM trainers, as well as farmers variously identifying as HM or ‘somewhat HM’. Sorting of statements about farming that were selected as being generically systems or traditional in nature revealed archetypes that reveal the trainers to be firmly systems experts, and trainees to be more weakly aligned with systems thinking though in some cases aspirational. Our question remains: does HM training attract those with the capacity for systems thinkers, which will necessarily be a subset of all farmers, or can it indeed be taught?
Factions in Savory-citers based on bibliometric coupling.
There has been a great irony in my first sabbatical: it has been publication-free. More things in process than I can easily monitor but nothing in hand. Until today, barely three weeks before sabbatical end. Phew! Today the first paper is out in Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems from my SSHRC-funded project on adaptive grazing approaches like holistic management. This paper, Who’s afraid of Allan Savory? Scientometric polarization on Holistic Management as competing understandings, is based on Carlisle Kent’s bibliometric work on HM in the summer of 2015. This used papers citing Allan Savory’s work on HM, as found in Web of Science, to understand the structure of research on the topic. General descriptives allowed us to see the changing nature of that work, geographically and in terms of discipline. Bibliometric coupling revealed distinct factions in terms of the kind of work being used to support papers (i.e. the reference lists) and that those factions seemed to align with disciplines as well as positions on HM. A number of recommendations are discussed around how farmers, advocates, researchers and policy-makers can work to resolve the competing understandings.