Survey On Trial: Sociological Contributions To Adaptive Agricultural Research

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Farming Systems Research has come up with rapid surveys, sondeos and on- farm trials. These developments have implications for their integration with conventional research techniques. The paper begins by discussing types of survey and trials, and issues involved in survey interpretation and implementation of the information generated. The validity (for whom) of knowledge generated and its use in the trial-survey and problem solving process are discussed. The integration of survey information with trial information is discussed with reference to an example from the Dominican Republic. The paper makes two basic arguments: (i) Relevant questions for surveys emerge from analyses of trials, and the more questions are based on problems faced in trials, the more survey results are likely to be integrated into trial design; (ii) the speed of the rural survey depends on the quality of the information already present: the fewer the data, the slower the survey. Speed depends on the effectiveness of multi-disciplinary collaboration, including farmer participation. The example shows how social science data was relevant in formulating a trial design which, however, did not respond to the problem. The paper concludes knowledge transfer is central to adaptive trials, and the role of social scientists as knowledge brokers is important in developing countries.

Interest groups: 
This paper may interest those involved in surveys and trials in agricultural extension and research.
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Available at IDS for reference
World Congress of Rural Sociology
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