A farm’s resilience is its ability to cope with disturbances or to come back to a routine regime following these disturbances. Disturbances are variable in their nature and intensity and are of two types:
- Hazards have an immediate impact that can last for months or even years.
- Changes are trends and have a gradual impact over longer time horizons of around a decade.
Three capacities of farms are to be developed to improve their resilience to hazards and changes:
- Buffer capacity: the farm can tolerate disturbances without moving away from its routine regime. For example, a dairy farm experiencing a drought can tolerate this hazard if its fodder stocks are sufficient.
- Adaptive capacity: the farm can implement technical, organizational or commercial adaptations to cope with hazards and quickly return to a routine regime. For example, in order to cope with a repetition of droughts, a diversification of crop rotations makes it possible to spread climatic risks over different crops and thus increase the stability of production.
- Transformative capacity: the farm is able to radically transform itself so as to keep thriving. For example, facing a drastic drop in milk prices, an intensive dairy farm can evolve towards an economical and autonomous system by changing the livestock breed, setting up a new production enterprise, modifying its marketing method, etc.
Agroecology, by encouraging agro-biodiversity, improving soil health, and promoting the autonomy of farms can improve their resilience to a variety of hazards and changes.
References to explore
Darnhofer, I. 2014. Resilience and why it matters for farm management. European Review of Agricultural Economics 41, 461–484.
Carpenter et al., 2001. From Metaphor to Measurement: Resilience of What to What? Ecosystem. Volume 4, Issue 8, pp 765–781.