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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

The Complex Pathway towards Farm-Level Sustainable Intensification: An Exploratory Network Analysis of Stakeholders' Knowledge and Perception

Micha, Evgenia; Fenton, Owen; Daly, Karen; Kakonyi, Gabriella; Ezzati, Golnaz; Moloney, Thomas; Thornton, Steven


Farm-level sustainable intensification of agriculture (SIA) has become an important concept to ensuring food security while minimising negative externalities. However, progress towards its achievement is often constrained by the different perceptions and goals of various stakeholders that affect farm management decisions. This study examines farm-level SIA as a dynamic system with interactive components that are determined by the interests of the stakeholders involved. A systems thinking approach was used to identify and describe the pathways towards farm-level SIA across the three main pillars of sustainability. An explanatory network analysis of fuzzy cognitive maps (FCMs) that were collectively created by representative groups of farmers, farm advisors and policy makers was performed. The study shows that SIA is a complex dynamic system, affected by cognitive beliefs and particular knowledge within stakeholder groups. The study concludes that, although farm-level SIA is a complex process, common goals can be identified in collective decision making.


sustainable intensification; stakeholder views; fuzzy cognitive mapping; mental models; network analysis

Published in

2020, volume: 12, number: 7, article number: 2578
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Micha, Evgenia
University of Gloucestershire
Fenton, Owen
Daly, Karen
Kakonyi, Gabriella
University of Sheffield
Moloney, Thomas
Thornton, Steven
University of Sheffield

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

Publication Identifiers


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