The intuitive world of farmers – The case of grazing management systems and experts
Successful grazing management is critical for stock farmers using pasture as the main source of food. Yet many farmers fall a long way short of the output of animal products possible given the pasture production achieved. Farmers have available a number of formal tools to help manage grazing systems, yet few make use of them. Another approach is to develop ‘expert systems’ encapsulating the skills of the most efficient farmers. This idea is explored based on the information obtained from three successful farmers who were interviewed on a regular basis over several years. The conclusion was that the rules and systems used by one farmer are not likely to apply to another due to their uniqueness. In effect the farmers build up their own personalised intuitive expert system. Thus, a more practical approach is to better train this intuitive skill. A discussion on what constitutes an expert is provided as this leads onto isolating the skills that need improving, and then onto exploring intuition and how it embodies the expert skills. A conclusion on how a farmer’s intuition might be improved is offered. Intuition is used by all farmers so the discussion has implications for all farming types. Finally, comments on research into intuition are offered.
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