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A social learning video method: Identifying and sharing successful transformation knowledge for sustainable soil management in Switzerland

Fry, Patricia, Thieme, Susan
Soil use and management 2019 v.35 no.1 pp. 185-194
arable soils, farmers, forage, forage production, learning, models, peers, social behavior, social networks, soil management, sustainable land management, wines, Switzerland
To enhance sustainable land use, a From Farmer to Farmer project was conducted in Switzerland (2001–2010). A multi‐stakeholder discussion group co‐produced nine videos with experienced farmers and wine producers showing sustainable soil management practices. We analysed the video audio‐visual content and drew on reflections of the co‐production process, referring to concepts of system, target and transformation knowledge, as well as on social learning. The analysis showed a broad range of means (or actions) for sustainable soil management in arable land management, fodder production and wine growing that are aligned to transformation knowledge. The research showed that farmers refer to three phases of social learning, light‐bulb moments, coping with challenges and gaining successful expertise. These are not just linear processes of individuals. Four types of social learning were found in the video analysis: (a) learning from observing actions of others, (b) sharing experiences with storytelling, (c) informal social interactions and (d) being a role model with a large social network. Videos enable transformation knowledge to be shared with peers using storytelling; this powerful narrative communication style provides credibility and respects the ‘thought style’ of the target audience group. We conclude that for successful implementation of sustainable actions, it is important to address a specific target group and share their transformation knowledge built upon system and target knowledge. The social learning video method is a viable way to enable social learning between science, administration and practice and has potential for fostering change in sustainable soil management.