NPR - Changing The Face Of Extension Using Old Methods (p18-26)
There are a number of extension methods which are used throughout the country with an aim of educating farmers and driving on-farm change. The majority of these methods are used in isolation from each other. A forward thinking group of farmer leaders in the South Waikato were determined to drive change in their area with a focus on profitability. An extension model that incorporated a focus farm with field days, workshop style participant group days and one-on-one consultancy pitched at a strategic level was developed. Funding was received from DairyNZ, Fonterra and South Waikato District Council to a level where it was free to farmers and covered a 3 year period. AgFirst were able to deliver this model to 50 dairy farmers in the South Waikato District with many positive outcomes. Farmers within the group have gained a better understanding of the direction and financial situation of their business. There has been an increased financial literacy of the participant group, increased monitoring both at a financial and physical level and an understanding of how this information can be used to make more informed business decisions.
The extension model provides a multi-faceted approach to extension with the focus farm providing demonstration of the implementation of tools such as the cashflow budget and monitoring and the subsequent use for informed decision making. This information is also all available to the wider community and updates are emailed and posted on the DairyNZ website fortnightly. The Participant Group days provide changes for sharing of knowledge, direct benchmarking within the group and education around industry KPI’s. This is all reinforced through the one-on-one consultant facilitation visits that are focused around the farm business strategic plan.
The DairyPush programme has proven to drive behavioural change and transfer of knowledge. The success of this in the past 3 years has lead to the programme being funded to continue for another 3 years with the profitability focus and an additional focus on reducing the environmental footprint and improving social well being of the business. The majority of farmers are continuing in the programme despite the introduction of a $400/yr cost and there are new participants eager to enrol.
Keywords: Extension, environment, education, technology transfer