Environment and Society Group

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Environment and Society Group

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
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Beausang C.,University of Edinburgh | Beausang C.,Environment and Society Group | Hall C.,Zero Waste Scotland | Toma L.,Environment and Society Group
Resources, Conservation and Recycling | Year: 2017

Food waste is recognised as being one of the major global challenges in achieving a sustainable future. Currently very little is known about how much food is wasted in primary production. This study uses a qualitative approach to examine farmers’ views on food waste and losses occurring on soft fruit and vegetable farms. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 fruit and vegetable farmers in Scotland to gain information about 1) farmers’ attitudes to food waste, 2) how much food waste is generated on farms, 3) what are the causes of food waste, 4) what happens to the waste, and 5) what strategies can be used to reduce food waste on farms and add value to how waste is used. Thematic analysis was employed to analyse data from the interviews. This study revealed that farmers do not consider food waste to be an issue of primary concern and perceive food waste to be an intrinsic part of farming. Farmers do not routinely record waste and have difficulty in providing estimates for food waste and losses. Many of the causes of food waste identified in this study are due to factors further along the food supply chain, including cosmetic specifications by retailers, and a lack of processing facilities. Farmers expressed an interest in adding value to how food waste is used on their farms, but identified several barriers in relation to using food waste for energy production through anaerobic digestion. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.

Barnes A.P.,Environment and Society Group | Lucas A.,University of Exeter | Maio G.,University of Cardiff
Food Security | Year: 2016

Sustainable intensification (SI) has been proposed as a solution to meeting the challenge of feeding a growing global population under increasing land pressure. This paper explores the level of ambivalence felt towards SI and towards experts promoting SI based solutions to meet food security. A web-based experiment was conducted with 600 respondents who had varying degrees of knowledge about food security issues. We found a diversity of public ambivalence towards sustainable intensification and a high level of felt ambivalence towards experts promoting SI as a solution to global food security. High levels of ambivalence towards experts seemed to influence how messages on global food security were accepted. Moreover, within the respondents here sustainable consumption and greater equity ranked higher than production based sustainable intensification solutions. This paper represents the first application of the psychological construct of ambivalence applied to the topic of sustainable intensification and we argue this helps to localise the debate around SI as it offers the opportunity to capture or disentangle responses towards food security issues. © 2016 The Author(s)

Vosough Ahmadi B.,Environment and Society Group | Shrestha S.,Environment and Society Group | Thomson S.G.,Environment and Society Group | Barnes A.P.,Environment and Society Group | Stott A.W.,Future Farming Systems Research Group
Journal of Agricultural Science | Year: 2015

The latest Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms could bring substantial changes to Scottish farming communities. Two major components of this reform package, an introduction of environmental measures into the Pillar 1 payments and a move away from historical farm payments towards regionalized area payments, would have a significant effect on altering existing support structures for Scottish farmers, as it would for similar farm types elsewhere in Europe where historic payments are used. An optimizing farm-level model was developed to explore how Scottish beef and sheep farms might be affected by the greening and flat rate payments under the current CAP reforms. Nine different types of beef and sheep farms were identified and detailed biophysical and financial farm-level data for these farm types were used to parameterize the model. Results showed that the greening measures of the CAP did not have much impact on net margins of most of the beef and sheep farm businesses, except for 'Beef Finisher' farm types where the net margins decreased by 3%. However, all farm types were better off adopting the greening measures than not qualifying for the greening payments through non-compliance with the measures. The move to regionalized farm payments increased the negative financial impact of greening on most of the farms but it was still substantially lower than the financial sacrifice of not adopting greening measures. Results of maximizing farm net margin, under a hypothetical assumption of excluding farm payments, showed that in most of the mixed (sheep and cattle) and beef suckler cattle farms the optimum stock numbers predicted by the model were lower than actual figures on farm. When the regionalized support payments were allocated to each farm, the proportion of the mixed farms that would increase their stock numbers increased whereas this proportion decreased for beef suckler farms and no impact was predicted in sheep farms. Also under the regionalized support payments, improvements in profitability were found in mixed farms and sheep farms. Some of the specialized beef suckler farms also returned a profit when CAP support was added. © 2015 Cambridge University Press.

Barnes A.P.,Environment and Society Group
Regional Environmental Change | Year: 2016

Full-scale technical potential provides a clear horizon for agricultural technology policy to meet the dual and urgent challenge of meeting food security and minimising the effects of climate change. A common stated goal is to double food production by 2050 to meet the needs of 9 billion people. The frontier of full-scale technical potential embodies this goal and provides a panacea for policy makers. However, the pathway between the present adoption of technologies towards this frontier is paved with some hazards which may be insurmountable. We develop a conceptual framework based on adoption levels of technology. The key criteria between current and potential adoption of technologies is the role of enablers, that is interventions which create changes in structural, distributional, technical, social and behavioural cultures. Policy must find optimal mixtures of regulation and voluntary mechanisms to fully encourage uptake of technologies and shift current adoption to meet full-scale technical potential. A range of technologies can be aligned with sustainable intensification and are examined in terms of this enabler framework. Further examination of the framework allows us to conclude that full-scale technical potential will never be achieved due to the stochastic nature of agricultural production, the diversity of motivations and institutional structures operating within food supply chains, as well as unbalanced cost-effectiveness criteria. We argue that sustainable intensification may provide a direction of travel for attaining food security but its poor conception, limited acceptability and understanding amongst the communities of interest lead to over-optimism in determining the journey to this final destination. © 2016 The Author(s)

Barnes A.,Environment and Society Group | Sutherland L.-A.,James Hutton Institute | Toma L.,Environment and Society Group | Matthews K.,James Hutton Institute | Thomson S.,Environment and Society Group
Land Use Policy | Year: 2016

Reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) contributes to uncertainty in farm planning and a number of studies have examined farmer intentions to possible future support scenarios. This paper extends this literature by examining the effect of past reform on influencing farmer intentions towards the most recent reform of the CAP. Agricultural production-related intentions up to 2020 are assessed for a survey of 1764 livestock based holdings in Scotland. The influence of the Fischler reform is estimated, in addition to a hypothetical payment increase and a payment decrease scenario for the new reforms. The majority of farmers stated a desire to remain on the same trajectory under both business as usual and payment increase scenarios. Under a payment decrease scenario, the number of farmers stating they would exit the industry more than doubled from 4% to 9% and around half the respondents stated they would decrease both herd size and intensity if payments were to decrease. Consequently, this may be some evidence of a loss aversion effect. Response to past reform was found to be a significant predictor of intention to change as well as the identification of a successor within the farm household. This alludes to the path dependency model of transition within agriculture and these factors as possible triggers of change within the farm. We propose that future studies of farmer intentions should include some of these temporally distinct variables to explain change. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

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