Supporting Farmer Transitions to Sustainable Agriculture Through Participatory Research in Brazil

Anne Elise Stratton

PhD ’21

This interdisciplinary project aims to co-design and implement an on-farm experiment with family farmers in southern Brazil. Working with non-profit and university partners, our participatory study will test the ecological, social, and economic effects of two sustainable agricultural practices, cover cropping and intercropping. Cover cropping (planting non-harvested crops during the fallow season) reduces erosion, builds soil organic matter, and contributes nutrients for crops, and intercropping (planting multiple crops in the same field) increases crop diversity and reduces pest and disease pressure, among other benefits. Agronomic and ecological studies have demonstrated the merits of these techniques on experimental farms and research stations, but very few studies have measured their effects on working farms. My project offers a novel, applied methodology that integrates agricultural and ecological research with the social and economic realities that farmers face as they transition from conventional to sustainable agriculture.

Library Mentor: Lori Tschirhart