Regenerative farming and human wellbeing: Are subjective wellbeing measures useful indicators for sustainable farming systems?

Kimberly Brown, Jacki Schirmer, Penney Upton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is increasingly argued that indicators of sustainable agriculture should include measures examining the health and wellbeing of farm managers. Given the farmer plays a crucial role in farm-based decision making and management, good farmer wellbeing may indicate a level of functioning across all components of the farm system - a defining aspect of sustainability. Despite this, few agricultural sustainability indicator frameworks measure farmer wellbeing. A key challenge is lack of exploration of the linkages between farming systems and wellbeing, and identification of measures that can shed light on the wellbeing benefits of ecological and economically sustainable farming systems. We test the utility of subjective wellbeing (SWB) measures for inclusion as part of agricultural sustainability indicator frameworks, using regenerative agriculture (RA) as a case example. RA is a farming system which many claim has benefits for sustainability, and attempts to assess the sustainability of this approach has yielded conflicting results. Using a sample of Australian graziers, we examine the relationship between engagement in RA and several measures of SWB. Hierarchical regressions were conducted to assess whether engaging in RA predicted variance in SWB over and above age, gender and farm type. We found RA was associated with higher SWB for some, but not all, measures. The association was strongest for measures of eudaimonic wellbeing and satisfaction with health. Our findings suggest that SWB measures are sufficiently sensitive to provide meaningful insight into the wellbeing impacts of different agricultural systems, supporting the case for inclusion of such measures in sustainability frameworks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100132
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental and Sustainability Indicators
Volume11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

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