Long term case studies and survey on Norwegian eco-farms S27
Løes, Anne-Kristin; Ebbesvik, Martha; Strøm, Turid; Vittersø, Helge
Norwegian Centre for Ecological Agriculture (NORSØK), N-6630 Tingvoll
|To develop ecological agriculture in Norway and
establish a base of knowledge as well as demonstration farms in different regions, 13
eco-farms were studied at NORSØK from 1989 to 1996. Which yields, income etc can be
achieved in Norwegian eco-farming? The farmers needed inspiration and advice. Yearly
week-end meetings for farmer families and project staff were a positive experience for
that purpose, and detailed planning of the conversion on each farm was important in the
first part of the project.
Case studies can be a holistic research strategy. Studies of practical farms and farmers give birth to ideas for further research. The farms are useful as examples and an education in reality, and the farmers as adiscussion group. A practical situation is complicated and difficult to structure and analyse, but the results and the farmers' experiences are easy to transfer. Whole farm case studies give useful information other research strategies could not obtain, e.g. on barriers for conversion, and problems that trouble eco-farmers.
This eight-year project included two research strategies: A broad survey, and case studies. Case studies can be on-farm-investigations of specificquestions, or studies to understand and describe how a certain farm functions as a whole. Our case studies were based on results collected in the survey. If case studies had been the only research strategy in this project, the registration program could have been reduced. A case study must be designed according to the research questions. Our experience is that investigations on complicated connections, e.g. the consequences of certain fodder rations on animal health, requires very detailed registrations that can only be carried out by especially qualified farmers. Investigations on nutrient cycles, crop rotations, yields etc are easier to organize and a larger number of farms can participate. Large groups of farms can participate in sociological case studies.
Lieblein, G. & E. Østergaard (1993): Gårdsstudier - definisjoner, utforming og helhetlige betingelser. Rapport 13, 35 p. Norwegian Centre for Ecological Agriculture, N-6630 Tingvoll
Løes, A. K. (1990) : Case Studies as a Research Method in Ecological Agriculture. Proceedings of the Ecological Agriculture no 5, p. 90-98. SLU, Uppsala
Vartdal, B & A. K. Løes (1995) : Farmers' Approaches to Ecological Agriculture. Ecology and Farming, vol. 9, p. 20-22