The move towards sustainable agriculture requires a more detailed understanding of farmers’ knowledge(s) and knowledge practices. Increasingly, it is important to understand not only what farmers understand, but how their knowledge practices incorporate others – especially given the emerging call for environmentally-orientated policy measures to move beyond an individual farmer focus. This paper considers how farmers engage with, utilise and share knowledge through a focus on the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) initiative in the UK. In exploring the importance of social contexts and social relations to these practices, the paper brings together understandings of knowledge with those from the literature on good farming to consider how different knowledges gain credibility, salience and legitimacy in different contexts. Drawing on qualitative semi-structured interviews with farmers in a ‘priority catchment’ in the North of England, the paper notes a general receptiveness to the knowledge offered by CSF advisors, but highlights the importance of specific contexts and personal relationships within this process and how farmers may hold different knowledge practices in relation to different parts of their farm. Specific places and spatial contexts are important to how knowledge is taken on and reworked and changing regulations and environmental conditions, the paper suggests, may be reshaping what knowledges farmers draw on and trust.
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Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.
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