Farm resilience

Scale level :
Definition :

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.

Published on 18 April 2019
Bibliographic references :

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.

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