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The negative effects of uncertainty and on perceived absorptive capacity indicates that identified problems with respect to the use of animal manures do not motivate farmers to search for external knowledge in order to solve these problems but, in contrary, they will be less inclined to learn about better ways to make use of manure. Furthermore, this will make them also less satisfied about the external knowledge which is offered and particularly will make them less willing to invest in soil analysis techniques which could help them to develop a more reliable nutrient management. These conclusions are problematic for policy makers, counsellors and consultants. First of all, while uncertainty could lead to problem identification and start a learning process in some contexts, it might discourage all learning in others, such as in the case of manure use. Policy makers should be aware that uncertainty following policy changes might lead to diminishing capacity of farmers to adapt to these changes and eventually lead to undesired effects of the measure. Second, while extension is the main instrument to help farmers adapt to the changing production environment, farmers with low absorptive capacity – being the main target group for these actions – will be less open towards these extension activities. This shows that more policy attention should be devoted to enhancing the learning skills and openness towards external knowledge.


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