New paper published with free online access

Julie Ingram and Jane Mills have co-authored a paper which has just been published in the Journal of Rural Studies. The paper is entitled ‘Communicating soil carbon science to farmers: incorporating credibility, salience and legitimacy’. The paper has free online access until December 24, 2016.

This paper is well timed, as for the next two weeks, the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22), is taking place in Marrakesh and will be considering how governments can achieve their climate change commitments. As well as reducing emissions they will be thinking about how to sequester greenhouse gas emissions to meet their mitigation targets.

One way of doing this is by sequestering carbon in the soil. As the OECD pointed out just prior to Paris COP21 in 2015 “soil organic matter, essentially made of carbon, is not only one of the determining factors of agricultural productivity, and a powerful support to crop resilience and adaptation to climate change, but also a promising option to sequester atmospheric CO2 captured by photosynthesis”.

We know that organic carbon content in agricultural soils can be enhanced through improved farm practices such as cover crops, minimum tillage, and residue management.  However we are less certain about how to manage soils to optimise soil carbon storage and productivity. This was the issue at the heart of the SmartSOIL project, an interdisciplinary project that aimed to provide scientifically grounded decision support to the farming community about managing soil carbon effectively.

soil roots 392x272This paper draws on research from this project. It discusses the difficulties in communicating scientific evidence about managing soil carbon to the farming community, as revealed when involving representatives from the farming community in the project. The uncertainties and complexity associated with soil carbon dynamics creates some problems in terms of making the scientific information credible, relevant and considerate of everyday lives and priorities of farmers and their advisers.

The paper highlights the need for researchers to pay attention to how they produce information, and to be more attuned to the requirements of the users and their decision context. It also notes the different stakeholders’ perceptions of what is credible and relevant information that need to be considered when devising any decision support guidance.

The full reference of the published paper is:

Ingram, J., Mills, J., Dibari, C., Ferrise, R.,  Ghaley, B.B.,  Hansen, J.G., Iglesias, A., Karaczun , Z., McVittie , A., Merante, P., Molnar, A. and Sánchez, B. (2016)  ‘Communicating soil carbon science to farmers: incorporating credibility, salience and legitimacy’.  Journal of Rural Studies  48 , 115-128