Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 13–23 | Cite as

Participatory approaches for sustainable agriculture: A contradiction in terms?

  • Murray Bruges
  • Willie Smith


This paper examines the adoption and application of a participatory approach to the transfer of scientific research to farmers with the objective of supporting government policies for sustainable agriculture. Detailed interviews with scientists and farmers in two case studies in New Zealand are used to identify the potential and constraints of such an approach. One case study involves Māori growers wishing to develop organic vegetable production; the other involves commercial wheat farmers who want to improve their profitability and face major problems of groundwater nutrification. The paper concludes that while both case studies are characterized as successful by those involved, there is an inherent creative tension between the adoption of a participatory approach and its use to advance public policy goals.


Agriculture Case studies Learning New Zealand Participatory approaches Policy Sustainability 



Crop and Food Research


East Coast Organic Producers Trust


Foundation for Research, Science, and Technology


Foundation for Arable Research


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography, Geology and Environmental ScienceUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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