Energy and labour use on farms: case studies from the Netherlands and China – PhD-thesis Tian Yu

November 20, 2019 at 4.00 pm Tian Yu will defend his PhD-thesis ‘Energy and Labour use on farms: case studies from the Netherlands and China‘. See the Abstract below.

The full thesis will be available after the defence ceremony. The ceremony will be live-streamed by Weblectures.wur.nl but can be viewed later as well. Tian Yu is affiliated as PhD-candidate at the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University.

Abstract

As one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emission, agricultural production is responsible for climate change. In the most industrial countries, agricultural production has built a great dependency on fossil energy consumption by replacing most human labour with agro-technologies on the farm. This is unsustainable in the context of climate change and resource depletion. Therefore, in order to mitigate climate change, the transition to sustainable food production is necessary and urgent. Rising in the 1970s, organic agriculture is believed to be a sustainable approach for agricultural production. It has been proved to use less fossil energy due to a commitment not to use any synthetic substances, but at the same time it uses more labour. When labour and fossil energy are regarded as two basic resource inputs on a farm, it seems that organic farms use more labour to compensate for the reduced fossil energy consumption. However, it is still unknown how the input balance of fossil energy and labour on organic farms is different from that on conventional farms, and how the different input balance would influence the sustainability of agricultural production. It is valuable to explore these questions against the backdrop of climate change. As the issue of fossil energy and labour input balance on farms has not been studied thoroughly, this thesis is written based on an exploratory research. The main objective is to explore the balance of fossil energy and labour input at farm level by comparing conventional and organic farming systems, and to explore the possibility to optimise sustainability of resource use in agricultural production.

By conducting comparative case studies in both the Netherlands and China, this thesis first calculated the energy and labour input balance separately in the two countries, and it concluded organic farming uses less energy and more labour compared with conventional farming in both countries, but there is great variation among all the farms in the size and farming activity of this gap. When comparing the results from the two countries, the thesis concluded that Dutch farms use more energy while Chinese farms use more labour due to their different resource endowments. However, the situation is changing in both countries, and the changes show that the so-called industrial agriculture – which consumes much more energy – is not the only nor the best trajectory for agricultural development. Requiring more labour use on-farm, how organic farming can deal with the labour constrains is then answered: organic farmers should be encouraged to explore their diverse local solutions to increase the resilience of their farm when dealing with the constraints. In further, using the theory of farming mode and farming style, this thesis discussed farmers’ input strategies by clarifying the heterogeneity within organic farms, and highlighting the trend of conventionalisation in the development of organic agriculture, and it supports the hypothesis that organic agriculture with peasant qualities shows better potential in applying organic principles to optimise the sustainability of an organic farm. At last, the thesis discussed the theoretical concept of organic peasant agriculture and tries to distinguish it from conventional agriculture and conventionalised organic agriculture. It concludes that organic peasant agriculture is valuable in the transition to sustainable food production.

Sustaining Dairy – PhD thesis by Georgina Villarreal Herrera

On Monday 26 June 2017 at 13.30 hrs Georgina Villarreal Herrera will defend her PhD thesis entitled ‘Sustaining Dairy’ in the Auditorium of Wageningen University. The ceremony will be live streamed by WURTV but can be viewed later as well.

The full thesis will be available online after the defence ceremony.

 

 

 

Summary of the PhD thesis

Dairy in Europe has undergone many changes in the last few years—the abolition of milk production quotas being a fundamental one. This study explores these changes in relation to the sustained social and environmental viability of the sector and how dairy processors’ sustainability programs are a part of that.

This study traces the evolution of the dairy sectors in the Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom since the post-war era, outlining the dominant logic that has guided their development. The analysis shows that the post-war logic based on the increase of scale and intensification of dairying has continued to shape the development of the sector through today. While the visible impacts of intensive dairy have led to adaptations to the dominant rules and practices, these changes have not been fundamental in nature. The analysis of dairy processors and their sustainability programs revealed that these programs can be an additional tool for compliance to legal standards and the alleviation of pressing societal concerns. However, processors address social and environmentally relevant dairy-related challenges when an effective link to profit can be established. These programs have been unable to ensure that the dairy sector operates within established environmental limits and societal expectations, while providing a stable livelihood for farmers.

Feeding Dar es Salaam: a symbiotic food system perspective

On Thursday 22 June 2017 at 11.00 hrs Marc Wegerif will defend his PhD thesis entitled ‘Feeding Dar es Salaam: a Symbiotic Food System Perspective’ in the Auditorium of Wageningen University. The ceremony will be live streamed by WURTV but can be viewed later as well.

The full thesis will be available online after the defence ceremony.

Marc is currently Land Rights Policy Lead for Oxfam and based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Before that he was in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) as Food and Land Rights Advisor for Oxfam with a focus on Horn, East and Central Africa. During that time he also undertook the fieldwork for his PhD thesis.

His thesis is based on qualitative research that explored the food system which feeds most of the over 4.6 million residents of the fast-growing city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Marc followed key foods (maize, rice, potatoes, green vegetables, eggs and milk) from the urban eaters to the retailers, processors and primary producers.

What has been found is a “symbiotic food system” made up of multitudes of small-scale and interdependent actors that together produce the food and get it to urban eaters at a city feeding scale. They do this without any vertically – or horizontally – integrated corporate structures.

The symbiotic food system that feeds Dar es Salaam is not perfect, but it is working and worthy of further research and interventions to create a more enabling environment for such foods systems to flourish in Tanzania and elsewhere.

Agricultural cooperatives and the social economy in Kenya – IMRD thesis by Jordan Treakle

treakle-dairy-cooperative-in-kenyaLast autumn Jordan Treakle successfully defended his Master of Science thesis ‘Agricultural cooperatives and the social economy in Kenya’s changing governance landscape’ in Wageningen’s Rural Sociology Group to complete his International Master in Rural Development. Below a synopsis of the thesis. Continue reading

The future of Peasant studies: Seminar and farewell address by Jan Douwe van der Ploeg

jd-seminar-1 Following his official retirement as Professor of Wageningen University, Jan Douwe van der Ploeg will give on January 26, 2017 his farewell address entitled ‘The importance of peasant agricultureThe ceremony will be in the Auditorium of Wageningen University from 16.00-17.00 CET and will be live streamed at WURTV. The ceremony is followed by a reception with the opportunity to congratulate Jan Douwe. Continue reading

Boekpresentatie ‘Boeren in de Food Valley’

Voor het boek Boeren in de Food Valley sprak Janneke Blijdorp met vijftien agrariërs uit de Gelderse Vallei. Door schaalvergroting verdween de afgelopen decennia tachtig procent van de boerenbedrijven in dit gebied. De overgebleven boeren zetten in op de internationale voedselindustrie of juist op ambachtelijkheid en de lokale markt. De boeren vertellen in het boek over hun motivatie en toekomstverwachting. Vaak zijn zij al generaties lang met het gebied verbonden. Samen leveren de verhalen een verrassend divers beeld op van veerkrachtige ondernemers. Eric Veltink maakte fotoportretten van de boeren en hun bedrijf. U bent van harte welkom bij de presentatie van Boeren in de Food Valley op donderdagmiddag 24 November van 15.00 – 16.30 uur in De Schaapskooi op het erf van melkveehouder Cor den Hartog, Grote Veenderweg 10, 6741 MC Lunteren. Continue reading

RETHINK Final conference in Brussels December 2, 2015

RETHINKOn behalf of the Rural Sociology I’m having a seat in the Advisory Board of the RETHINK: a transdisciplinary research project supported by the European Commission and funding bodies in 14 countries under the umbrella of FP7 and the RURAGRI ERA-NET. The RETHINK Final conference will take place in Brussels, December 2, 2015. It will be an interesting event with a final reflection by:

  • Rob Peters, Head Unit ‘Research & Innovation’ of DG Agri;
  • Christiane Canenbley, Unit ‘Agricultural Policy Analysis and
    Perspectives’ of DG Agri
  • Egizio Valceschini, Director of Research at L’Institut National de la
    Recherche Agronomique (INRA), representating the RURAGRI ERA network
  • A RURAGRI country representative

You can download the program here and register yourself at the RETHINK website.

For more information you can contact the RETHINK scientific coordinator Dr. Karlheinz Knickel: knickel@em.uni-frankfurt.de

Participants needed for online survey about sustainable urban and peri-urban food provision!

SUPURBFOOD logo

SUPURBFOOD is an international research project carried out by a consortium of ten research and ten SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) partners, in which novel solutions to urban and peri-urban food provision have been examined in three thematic areas. These thematic areas are: (i) nutrient, water and waste cycles, (ii) short food supply chains, and (iii) multi-functional land use. While positive developments are found in all of these, additional steps are needed to make full use of the potential of these innovations. Hence, the project team formulated a set of recommendations and would like to ask relevant stakeholders (e.g. policymakers, entrepreneurs, civil society organisations) for their opinion about their effectiveness. For that purpose an online survey has been launched, which takes 10-15 minutes to complete. If you considers yourself to be a relevant stakeholder, you are kindly requested to complete the online questionnaire, which is available in seven languages: English, Dutch, German, Italian, Latvian, French and Galician.

Eco Intensive Agriculture Conference proceedings

The proceedings of the Eco Intensive Agriculture Conference are available at the website of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW). Rural Sociology was represented by our chair prof. Han Wiskerke and Jessica Duncan (Food Governance).

Jessica Duncan’s Pecha Kucha (a presentation of 6:20 with a series of 20 slides that change every 20 seconds) was called ‘Governing the Doughnut: the role of scientists in transformations towards sustainable food systems‘, watch the video above.

Han Wiskerke was one of the six key note speakers, presenting ‘Eco-intensive agriculture and the provision of public goods‘. All six key note speakers were asked to make short statements on four questions and this was recorded. These short video are also available at the NIOO website. Below the answer to question 4: What step is needed now?

Call for abstracts Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society Conference

The programme committee of the Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society Conference, which will take place in Rome (Italy) from 14-17 September 2015, has opened the call for abstracts. Abstracts can be submitted through the conference system EasyChair until 31 March 2015 for one of the following 23 working groups (click on the working group for description and convenors or download pdf (500 KB)):

  1. WG1 – Connecting local and global food systems and reducing footprint in food provisioning and use
  2. WG2 – Short food supply chains (regional products; farmers’ markets; collective farmers’ marketing initiatives; alternative food networks; CSA)
  3. WG3 – Economic impact at the farm level
  4. WG4 – New business models for multiple value creation
  5. WG5 – Entrepreneurial skills and competences, knowledge and innovation systems and new learning arrangements
  6. WG6 – Transition approaches
  7. WG7 – Regional branding and local agrifood systems: strategies, governance, and impacts
  8. WG8 – Food systems and spatial planning. Towards a reconnection?
  9. WG9 – Land-use transformations
  10. WG10 – Urban agriculture I. Urban agriculture and Urban Food Strategies: Processes, Planning, Policies and Potential to Reconnect Society and Food
  11. WG11 – Urban agriculture II. Grass-root initiatives and community gardens
  12. WG12 – Urban agriculture III: Effects of UA. Urban agriculture: a potential tool for local and global food security, economic, social and environmental resilience, and community health and wellness
  13. WG13 – Care Farming/Social Farming in more resilient societies
  14. WG14 – Rural tourism (agri-tourism) and changing urban demands
  15. WG15 – Local arrangements for agricultural ecosystem services: connecting urban populations to their peri-urban landscapes through the ecosystem services of agriculture
  16. WG16 – Gender aspects of multifunctional agriculture
  17. WG17 – Civic agriculture for an urbanizing society: production models, consumption practices and forms of governance
  18. WG18 – Society Oriented Farming – working on the balance between market and societal demands
  19. WG19 – Food Security: Meanings, Practices and Policies
  20. WG20 – Revolutionary solutions for local food systems
  21. WG21 – Urban forestry, Green infrastructure
  22. WG22 – Food System Transitions: Cities and the Strategic Management of Food Practices
  23. WG23 – Conceptualising and Assessing City Region Food Systems

After a positive evaluation of the abstract the author will be asked to upload a paper of max 10 pages which will be published online on the website of the conference. There will also be the possibility to submit a short paper of max 2 pages enabling the authors to still publish their results in peer reviewed journals after the conference. Short papers will be published in a book of proceedings. The procedures for the papers will be published on the conference website soon.