Standard methodologies for on farm research usually follow a set pattern of farming systems research and technology transfer. This model assumes that technologies which show promise under researchers' (controlled) conditions are sound, and that non-adoption is due to farmer of socio-economic problems. Farmer technical knowledge is usually ignored. This paper presents a detailed case study based on agricultural anthropological research of farmer experimentation (crop and cultivar choices) among migrant settlers in the Philippines. Farmer soil fertility management is explored in depth, and the implications for on-farm research are drawn out. The first step in the model which derives from the research presented requires learning from and about farmers. Unlike in other research, the results are not used to change preexisting research agendas, but to set them. A further step involves research on a menu of technical alternatives that integrate farmer and researcher concerns and contributions. This implies a view of 'participation' which is a 'two-way street', i.e. going beyond the 'fashionable' recognition that "farmers know best" to a more helpful recognition that "both experts and local people have unique areas of expertise which together provide a better basis for development than either alone".
This paper may interest those involved in agricultural research and extension.