Barriers to adoption of regenerative agriculture

Below we have summarised barriers to regenerative agriculture from Magrini et al. (2019), Anderson et al. (2019), Gosnell et al. (2019) and from personal experience and personal communication with Graham Hand (2019). This could provide a framework or checklist that could be useful to frame deeper analysis of barriers and enablers related to a specific practice change; project or group of farmers. Barriers and enablers cannot be considered in isolation - they are compounding or reinforcing and each individual will experience a unique expression or combination of factors for their context. Needless to say, government or other projects designed to overcome barriers need to be designed to respond to diverse contexts and interrelating factors/considerations.

PSYCHOLOGICAL Psychological distress / mental illness e.g. in crisis/drought. Fear of change, habit/tradition, ego/pride (Gosnell et al 2019)

PRACTICAL Infrastructure lock-in - farm redesign; processing and distribution infrastructure (Anderson et al 2019). Ecological lock-in - need to build in time for restoration of ecological function (Anderson et al 2019). Challenge in shifting focus from yield to profit; initial investment in fencing and water infrastructure, hiring consultants, paying for training; frequent stocking/destocking; and time commitment for meticulous bookkeeping; steep learning curve to understand ecosystem processes, get monitoring system going; challenging to quit chemicals and trust ecological processes; tolerating weeds; learning to co-exist with predators; time commitment for daily ecological monitoring (Gosnell et al 2019)

CULTURAL Lack of willingness to acknowledge past mistakes and damage; masculine farming culture, identities and practice; notions of farming success that lie in production measures; aesthetics involving preference for a tidy farm; pressure to conform to cultural norms re: farming and what it means to be a good farmer; peer/industry/family pressure and antagonism; getting family agreement to change practices; social isolation and the need to make new friends and colleagues (Gosnell et al 2019).

SYSTEMIC Knowledge lock in - formal education and information from agents and other rural service providers and media reinforce the dominant system (Anderson et al 2019) Policy lock-in - government policy and investment reinforces dominant system (Anderson et al 2019) eg drought policy Debt lock-in - Farmers cannot miss repayments - can’t take risks on system transformation. Banks adjust business interest rates according to β€œrisk” which for them correlates with deviation from norm. (Anderson et al 2019) Market lock in - Commodity markets or major contract buyers like supermarkets define what is produced e.g. grain finished meat / vegetables designed for storage/transport (Anderson et al 2019). Consumer culture driving preferences and household demand for β€œcheap” food. Role and influence of conventional agribusiness; farmers lack knowledge to challenge the status quo; skepticism from the research community; local politics related to peer dynamics; pressure from representatives of chemical companies (Gosnell et al 2019).

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