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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

What Skills Do Agricultural Professionals Need in the Transition towards a Sustainable Agriculture? A Qualitative Literature Review

Sorensen, Laura Brandt; Germundsson, Lisa Blix; Hansen, Stine Rosenlund; Rojas, Claudia; Kristensen, Niels Heine


Agriculture is facing mounting challenges across the globe and must move towards more sustainable practices to combat climate change and meet changed production requirements. Education has been acknowledged as highly important in a sustainable transition, but there is no clear agreement about what skills are needed for professionals in the agricultural system. The purpose of this paper is to identify and analyse skills needed for professionals in the agricultural system to engage in the transition towards sustainable agriculture and elaborate on the implications of this for a transition towards sustainable agriculture. The review is based on a qualitative semi-systematic literature review of 20 peer-reviewed articles concerned with sustainability, skills, and agriculture. Five categories of skills were identified and analysed, including systems perspective, lifelong learning, knowledge integration, building and maintaining networks and learning communities, and technical and subject-specific knowledge and technology. As the identified categories of skills have emerged from different contextual settings and a diverse group of actors, these five categories encourage a broad and inclusive understanding of skills that can be translated into different contextual settings, scales, and professions within the agricultural system. The article concludes that professionals engaged in the transition towards sustainable agriculture need skills that encourage a perspective that moves beyond generic discipline-based skills and instead builds on heterogeneity, inclusion, and use of different actors' knowledge, practices, and experiences, and the ability to respond and be proactive in a constantly changing world.


sustainability; agricultural professionals; sustainable agricultural systems; sustainable education; skills

Published in

2021, volume: 13, number: 24, article number: 13556
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Sorensen, Laura Brandt
Roskilde University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of People and Society
Hansen, Stine Rosenlund
Roskilde University
Rojas, Claudia
University of Chile
Heine Kristensen, Niels
Roskilde University

Associated SLU-program


Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger
SDG4 Quality education
SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)