Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 405–418 | Cite as

Agronomist–farmer knowledge encounters: an analysis of knowledge exchange in the context of best management practices in England

  • Julie IngramEmail author


This paper explores how knowledge is exchanged between agricultural advisors and farmers in the context of sustainable farming practices in England. Specifically the paper examines the nature of the knowledge exchange at the encounters between one group of advisors, agronomists, and farmers. The promotion of best management practices, which are central to the implementation of sustainable agricultural policies in England, provide the empirical context for this study. The paper uses the notion of expert and facilitative approaches as a conceptual framework for analyzing knowledge exchange encounters between agronomists and farmers. Data were derived from semi-structured interviews with 31 agronomists and 17 farmers, in the context of three initiatives promoting a range of best management practices including (a) targeted use of nitrogen (N), (b) use of nutrients within manure, and (c) management practices to improve soil structure. The interviews revealed that, although many agronomist–farmer knowledge exchange encounters are characterized by an imbalance of power, distrust, and the divergence of knowledge, other encounters provide a platform for the facilitation of farmer learning in their transition to more sustainable practices.


Advisor Agronomist Best management practices England Extension Facilitation Farmer Knowledge exchange Sustainable agriculture 



Association of Independent Crop Consultants


British Institute of Agricultural Consultants


Best management practices


Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


Fertilizer Recommendation System


Knowledge exchange encounter


Non-Governmental Organization


Nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium


Soil Management Initiative



I would like to acknowledge the Economic and Social Research Council in UK who funded a post graduate research studentship which enabled me to carry out this study. I would also like to thank all those concerned with the case study initiatives who assisted with the research, in particular the participating farmers and advisors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Countryside and Community Research InstituteUniversity of GloucestershireCheltenhamUK

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