Title: Facilitating and evaluating farmer innovations towards more sustainable energy and material flows: case-study in Flanders
Authors: Defrijn, Sven
Mathijs, Erik
Gulinck, Hubert
Lauwers, Ludwig #
Issue Date: Jul-2008
Publisher: INRA SAD
Host Document: Empowerment of the rural actors: a renewal of farming systems a renewal of farming systems perspectives pages:765-773
Conference: European IFSA Symposium edition:8 location:Clermont-Ferrand date:6-10 July 2008
Article number: 108
Abstract: The paper starts from the overal societal concern about the sustainability of energy and
material flows, in particular in highly urbanized regions, and the role of agriculture to increase this
sustainability. The case of Flanders (Belgium) is taken because of its high throughput of energy and
materials. The paper proposes a conceptual and methodological framework for interactively and
iteratively clarifying and designing more sustainable systems, investigating how local innovations can
be facilitated and evaluated in a consistent way. The innovations are seen as organisationtranscending,
as they radically change the interactions between enterprises, organisations and
individuals involved (system innovations). The research develops theoretical insights based on action
research in case-study settings. Through iterative cycles of observation, reflection, planning and active
experimentation, an adaptive research agenda is built, which is orientated towards the local conditions
and the major issues of relevance. Besides the more theoretical justification of the –predominantly
qualitative- research approach, the paper shows first-stage results on the “rapeseed for biofuel” case,
up to now the first-at-hand system innovation in Flanders with respect to more sustainable energy and
material flows. A context analysis describes the system innovation through its hardware (technology),
software (knowledge, vision, motivation) and orgware (organisational and institutional conditions) and
offers a typology of rapeseed producers with different management strategies. This helps to
understand why so little farmers engage in cultivating rapeseed in Flanders at the moment, and
highlights opportunities for fostering the system innovations’ growth/success.
ISBN: 978-2-7380-1252-4
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IC
Appears in Collections:Division of Bioeconomics
Division Forest, Nature and Landscape Research
# (joint) last author

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