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A common and important role that agricultural scientists play is supporting farmers to implement strategies for continuous improvement on-farm to achieve sustainability and productivity goals. This subject will introduce students to the principles of farm practice change and how change can be supported by effective advisory practices. These principles include: appreciating diversity amongst farmers and its implications for change; understanding theories of adult learning and how they apply to change management on-farm; recognising factors that influence farmer decision making; and the multiple advisory strategies for achieving change on-farm. This subject also introduces students to a practical toolbox of approaches that agricultural advisors use with their farmer clients to support decision-making including: mentoring; facilitated discussion; field visits; joint data analysis; and peer-to-peer learning.
Students will apply these principles to a farm case study where students, working in groups, interview a farm manager and then design an advisory strategy to support a particular farm practice change issue.
Topics covered in the subject include:
- Introduction to farms as complex adaptive systems
- Introduction to rural social research theories and methods to understand farm practice change from a farmer perspective
- Factors influencing farmer decision making (values, beliefs, worldviews, context)
- Context to farmer decision making: food policy and regulation, agricultural workforce & farm human resource management, natural resource management, rural community context, social licence and consumer preferences
- The role of agricultural advisors in supporting farm practice change
- Models of one-on-one agricultural advisory practice to support farm practice change and examples
- Tools and techniques for agricultural advisors to use to effectively support farm practice change
Intended learning outcomes
- Demonstrated understanding of how to critically evaluate and formulate farm practice change options
- Demonstrated understanding of the role and capacities of agricultural advisors in supporting farm practice change
- Understand and describe different models of one-on-one agricultural advisory practice
- Demonstrated ability to collect, analyse and interpret agricultural and environmental data in collaboration with farmers for appropriate decision making
- Understand and describe a range of different knowledge transfer and communication tools and techniques for supporting farm practice change
- Ability to critically evaluate options and formulate an effective one-on-one agricultural advisory plan to support farm practice change
- Critical thinking about change challenges
- Analysis of complex problems
- Written communication
- Ability to work collaboratively
- Problem solving to support farm practice change
- Application of theory to practice
Last updated: 18 December 2020