Some of the most important decisions made by farming businesses occur around the kitchen table
Evans, KJ and Ball, P and Bridle, K and Field, B and Leith, PB, Some of the most important decisions made by farming businesses occur around the kitchen table, Tasmanian Country, Tasmanian Country, Hobart, Tasmania (2012) [Newspaper Article]
Some of the most important decisions made by farming businesses occur around the kitchen table. Seeking more information is often the first decision. Learning from a trusted source matters. When it comes to adopting a new practice or technology multiple decisions may be needed to reduce our uncertainty. We may also need the skills to apply an innovation.
The Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) recognises the complexities of the adoption and innovation process. Extension and industry development are now part of TIA’s much broader role. Research is as important as ever, but so is converting research into actionable knowledge.
Today we focus on how TIA is partnering directly with farmer groups and others to enable change in farming practices. These examples illustrate TIA’s focus on projects producing greatest outcomes for Tasmania – so called public benefits – but also where public and industry benefits are maximised.
Sheep, beef, and grains clothe the majority of Tasmania’s productive landscape. On the fertile paddocks of Ringarooma a pro-active farmer group and TIA are working together to demonstrate and develop our understanding of the value of improved legume content and intensive pasture utilisation in the production of literally tonnes of beef per ha. This farmer-led group approach is a great example of TIA supporting and facilitating industry development.
TIA’s Extensive Agriculture Centre organises field days and regional trial sites to explore pasture options, species adaptation and performance, in depth and in partnership with Natural Resource Management (NRM) and producer groups across Tasmania.
Partnership was a theme at the Cressy Research and Demonstration Station recently where TIA collaborated with the Grasslands Society and Agribusiness to deliver a MLA Pasture Update. TIA raised awareness of new options, best practice approaches and systems thinking required for industry development.
TIA evaluates its extension activities to ensure continual improvement. The Cressy audience gave the event an exceptional 86% approval and value rating – a great score but the bar can always be set higher. TIA is reviewing how new projects are developed and evaluated. The following collaborative project has been designed to ensure outcomes are more than the sum of parts.
Increasing the storage of soil carbon is a key goal under the Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative. TIA has established a new project with Natural Resource Management (NRM) South, NRM North and Greening Australia to demonstrate the effect on soil carbon of different grazing management practices in native and semi-native pastures.
Farmers tell us that they want to hear about new research directly from researchers. Conducting applied research on farms links it directly to farmers for mutual understanding and problem solving. Effective extension occurs when it is intertwined with ‘participatory’ research. Peak industry bodies, NRMs, NGOs and TIA are using their complementary skills to design an effective extension program.
Important players in adoption of new practices and technology are the on-ground consultants, agronomists, bank managers and so on. These are the people who drive through the farm gate and influence those decisions that are being made at the kitchen table. TIA is working with private extension providers to ensure we effectively deliver and grow the capability of TIA and the service-provider sector as a whole.
Read more about TIA’s policy at http://www.tia.tas.edu.au/documents/development-and-extension
Dr Kathy Evans
TIA Convenor for Industry Development & Extension
July 2, 2012.
Peter Ball and Kerry Bridle