AgriLink The role of advisory services in farmers’ decision making for innovation uptake: Tagetes cultivation for nematode control, Sandy soils of the Netherlands - AgriLink

The role of advisory services in farmers’ decision making for innovation uptake: Tagetes cultivation for nematode control, Sandy soils of the Netherlands

Netherlands, Noord-Holland and Limburg
Region

The areas where tagetes is cultivated are on the sandy soils of the Netherlands, which are these NUT 3 regions: NL111, NL132, NL131, NL133, NL211, NL413, NL414, NL421, NL422.

Region map

In these arable and vegetable cropping region, mainly high value crops are cultivated: potatoes, strawberries, fruits and flower bulbs.

These regions are selected because the nematode problem is very prominent on these soil types and the high value crops that experience significant economic damages if the nematode populations are not controlled. In Brabant, the innovation of tagetes cultivation is already adopted several years ago, in Drenthe it is just coming up.

Study focus

The study focuses on the flow of knowledge from research and farm-advisors to farmers of the Tagetes Patula cultivation for nematode control (Pratylenchus Penetrans) and the implementation of this innovation on their farm.  The reasons why farmers implement(ed) the innovation are analyzed and it is explored from which sources they receive required knowledge to make a well informed decision.

The consulted experts have seen the development and increasing interest of farmers in tagetes cultivation through research and adoption. The main reason farmers start cultivating tagetes is that the alternative (chemical soil disinfestation) becomes increasingly difficult due to stricter rules and regulations. Advisors and researchers are committed to make farmers aware and assist them with the implementation of tagetes. The research was and is mainly executed on experimental farms in the focus areas, and can be seen as a hotspot for innovations. The advisors use the collected data from research and made farmers aware. After the awareness phase, farmers were mainly looking for advice about how tagetes should be cultivated, when it should be sown for maximum results and how to keep weeds under control. Almost all interviewed farmers did already implemented and consolidated tagetes, since the regulations started to become more strict already in the 1990s and became stricter and stricter every year. The implementation of tagetes can be seen as successful, since it is effective, widely adopted and also beneficial on other aspects like soil quality.

Full report is available here.

Partner and responsible person contact

Wageningen University and Research

Leendert Molendijk, leender.molendijk@wur.nl

Wageningen University and Research

Lessons learned
1 Regular contact with advisor
All farmers stay in regular contact with an independent advisor or an advisor from an advisory organisation (e.g. Delphy). Many farmers were introduced to tagetes cultivation as a solutions to their PP problem by their advisor.
2 Several advice organisations present
Nowadays there are several advice organisations present, from large too small. The larger ones have their knowledge departments, which provide the advisors with the required knowledge. The small organizations are dependent on an advisor’s own knowledge and conviction that tagetes can help his farmers clients.
3 Neighbouring or experimental farms are important
When farmers need to decide whether or not they want to start cultivating tagetes, farmers often go and look on neighbouring or experimental farms that have already started cultivating and promote tagetes. Peer farmers are therefore also an important source of advice and support. Some farmers directly implemented tagetes cultivation after observing that it works for their colleagues, while others first tested it on a small patch of their own land.
4 First adoption started in the South-East
Farmers in the South-east of the Netherlands are more innovative than their colleagues in the North-East. Therefore, first adoption started in the South-East. These farmers were willing to give it a try. The farmers in the North-East waited for further experiments and positive results. They wanted to see successes elsewhere, before implementing it on their own farm.
5 Stricter regulations on chemical soil disinfestation was the trigger event for innovation
The advice organisations and key-actors both mentioned that the stricter regulations on chemical soil disinfestation was the trigger event that caused more interest from farmers to alternative methods to control the PP nematode. If the regulations would not have become stricter, most farmers would have continued with their normal practices because the inputs would be widely available. As for the active assessment, research experiments showed that tagetes is an effective way to combat the PP nematode. This results were demonstrated and provided to farmers by advisors and could be used in the decision making process whether or not to implement tagetes. During implementation of the innovation, advisors were helping the farmers with the new practices of tagetes cultivation. The consolidation phase is mainly in the domain of the farmer themselves, assisted by the advisors. The advisors and experts mentioned that tailor made advice is necessary in the awareness, assessment and implementation phase. Tagetes is not an easy crop to cultivate, so there was and is an important task for advisors to inform farmers about crop management (time and way of seeding, weed management).

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