Introduction into the realm of researcher

Over the last few weeks, I have been synthesizing and drafting a literature review for my professor, regarding the role of agricultural advisors in farming technology uptake. This is quite exciting because I’m learning so much about the field and I also feel as though I am contributing to a greater understanding of this particular area of study, which I suppose is a joy that can be shared by most researchers. The point of researching something is not just to improve one’s own understanding of it, but to spread that information with other people, which I believe can be very satisfying. However, I had no idea that there was just so much reading involved! This may sound naïve, but the number of papers I have read just to write a 6 page paper is astounding, especially as only a handful of the papers I read were incorporated into my review. More than anything, this work has helped me understand just how much work goes into the spread and transfer of information from one sphere to another. Yet the sense of accomplishment that comes with this is definitely worth the amount of seemingly fruitless work that is put into it.

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Researching sustainable intensification in agriculture

After the first week of my internship, I am quite excited about what the rest of the summer will bring. I have met with my advisor (Dr. Barnes) several times to discuss my goals for the summer and also to go over what he is currently researching it. At the moment, he is looking at sustainable intensification (SI) in agriculture. As the name suggests, this essentially means: how can we increase agricultural production while keeping it sustainable, ie not depleting all of our resources. Incorporating SI into farming on a global scale is of the utmost importance for food security, something that becomes more relevant and pressing every day. There are many factors that comprise SI, one of which is integrated pest management (IPM), which Dr. Barnes is increasingly turning his focus to. This is a method that encourages the use of more natural pest control practices, especially on crops that are immediately consumed, such as vegetables and fruits, with chemical pesticides only being a last resort. This is  not a new technique, nor is it looked upon unfavorably, but it does not seem to be widespread. So the point of our research is to look at the uptake of IPM, which farmers use it and why, and if they don’t use it, why not? Currently, my role is to research SI and IPM and gather as much information as I can in order to start piecing together the puzzle. In the following weeks we will start using this information to lay the foundation for a future paper. Furthermore, we will start organizing workshops for farmers, so that we can talk about SI, and hopefully also get a chance to interview farmers to gather qualitative information on farmers’ opinions of SI methods. It’s all very exciting and I can’t wait to see what we achieve in the next few weeks.