How do farmers make decisions?

Peter Cox of the Agricultural Production Systems Research Unit is working with farmers on a related aspect of farmer-driven research — capturing what farmers know and how they make decisions, and reflecting this back to the research community.

"We're tackling this by saying we can't tell people how to make better decisions without understanding how they do it now," said Mr Cox.

"Eventually we want to determine the needs of decision support systems and how to design more appropriate ones. We're concerned thai a lot of products arc inappropriate!) marketed substitute." for interaction between researchers and farmers," he said.

Dr Cox said the results of farmers' own research have always been dismissed by professional researchers as anecdotal. "Farmers do large-scale, one-off experiments. The model for how they do things is horizontal, broad with a lot of interconnected activities going on.

"Researchers on the other hand tend to look at small parts of the problem, vertically and in-depth. The challenge is to bring the two approaches together."