The 'Participatory Investigation of the Management of Weeds in Organic Production Systems' has taken a participatory approach to research and problem solving.
The aims of the project were "to define weed problems together with organic farmers and growers, propose ways of addressing these problems, and then research solutions in order to arrive at the most appropriate for use in organic systems."
The approach has become centred around facilitating discussion and learning between 'stakeholders'- especially farmers, advisors and researchers- on issues surrounding organic weed management. This approach can be broken down into five broad areas:
- learning from and gathering of knowledge relating to weed management from organic farmers
- a review of the scientific literature and other sources of information
- identifying (and prioritising) the main problems related to weeds in organic farming systems
- monitoring and trialing weed management strategies or technologies on-farm
- promoting the sharing of knowledge through the organic (farming) community
By taking such an approach it is hoped that the research carried out will be of direct interest and relevance to organic farmers.
The main methods that have been developed for use within the project include:
- organising meetings/ workshops, focus groups, field walks and open days
- elaborating case studies on weed management practices
- a thorough scientific review of weed research relevant to organic weed management
- monitoring weed management practices on-farm
- simple 'researcher led' trials to answer questions arising
- farmer led field trials to try to resolve practical issues
- development of this website as an information source
- development of this knowledge through the production of leaflets, popular press articles, and, where appropriate, (refereed) scientific papers
Much of this material is available through this website either as web pages or as pdf files. A summary of the project pogress is available on this page.
Similar projects or ideas have been undertaken in many different contexts and have proved particularly popular in Australia (e.g at http://www.sustdev.org/agriculture/articles/edition3/SDI3-16.pdf (a PDF file) and in the United States (e.g. at http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/asap/research/research.html) .
Further ideas can be found in a SARE publication ‘How to conduct research on your farm or ranch’ available at http://www.sare.org/onfarm99/index.htm.