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New model offers roadmap for farm advisory services

A project driven by a southern Queensland sugarcane growers’ organisation has developed a framework to guide the future of farm advisory services and workers.

“We wanted to work out at what makes a good extension officer and why some farmers adopt new practices while others don’t,” CANEGROWERS Isis Manager Angela Williams said. “We wanted to find the magic ingredients.”

The project team collected over 400 interviews, discussions and surveys with farmers, extension officers and researchers across Queensland. The result is the launch of an Extension Model of Practice.

“This is a first-of-its-kind framework which puts farmers firmly at the centre of the process and provides extension officers with a robust and proven method of engaging with them whilst supporting their productivity and profitability goals through practice change on farms,” Ms Williams said.

“This Model was born of a need to support and upskill a new generation of extension professionals and to improve the integration of their extension training in agricultural and environmental science degrees.

“It hones in on the fact that what we do in extension is important, but how we do it makes the difference,” she said.

“It acknowledges that significant change is often difficult and that relationships, as well as technical know-how, are important.”

The development of the Extension Model of Practice was made possible through funding support from the State Government’s Enhanced Extension Program.

“This is really an important beginning, not an end point,” Ms Williams said. “The next step is to embed the model into the training, policy and funding framework to enable extension officers to work more effectively to ultimately improve outcomes.”

Source: CANEGROWERS