Scientists and agricultural trade associations may further conservation outcomes by engaging with one another to uncover opportunities and engage in social learning via knowledge co-production. We observed, documented, and critically reviewed knowledge exchanges among scientists and agricultural stakeholders working on a multidecadal water conflict in Wisconsin. Differences in knowledge exchange and production were related to meeting spaces, organization, time management, and formality of interactions. We found that repetitive, semiformal meetings organized and led by growers facilitated knowledge exchange, co-production, and social learning. However, scientists often appeared uncomfortable in grower-controlled spaces. We suggest that this discomfort results from the widespread adoption of the deficit model of scientific literacy and objectivity as default paradigms, despite decades of research suggesting that scientists cannot view themselves as objective disseminators of knowledge. For example, we found that both scientists and growers produced knowledge for political advocacy but observed less transparency from scientists, who often claimed objectivity in politicized settings. We offer practical methods and recommendations for designing social learning processes as well as highlight the need to better prepare environmental and extension scientists for engaging in agribusiness spaces.
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