Improving the uptake of Australia’s world-class research and development (R&D) will require greater consideration of farmers’ attitude to change, along with a range of other barriers to adoption, says a new report released today by Nuffield Scholar and grain grower Chris Reichstein.
Mr Reichstein owns and operates a 4500 hectare grains enterprise north-east of Esperance in Western Australia and received a Nuffield Scholarship supported by the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC).
His research investigated how best to deliver scientific information to farmers in order to effect practice change and improve profitability and sustainability. He also looked at international R&D models to bridge the gap between researchers and farmers to improve the performance of the agricultural sector.
Mr Reichstein said his study topic was inspired by a long history of adoption of innovation in the Esperance region across practices as land clearing, high input production systems, the implementation of no-till cropping and precision agriculture.
“Esperance was settled by farmers in the 1960s, who were lured by the promise of cheaper land and opportunity. With that, there’s always been a strong undercurrent of risk-taking and progressive practice, which has led to early adoption in the area,” Mr Reichstein said.
“Today, as growers in the 21st century, we’re facing a number of challenges such as climate and market variability, increased exposure to biosecurity threats and a general need to produce more, with less.
“I’ve always wanted to build understanding of what brings about change and how farmers learn to better their practices and, for me, the Nuffield Scholarship was the perfect opportunity to pursue this area of interest.”
The scholarship took Mr Reichstein around the world not only to examine different R&D models, but also to identify some of the key barriers to adoption.
“Australia is home to some of the world’s best R&D especially in agriculture, but has typically embraced the ‘top down’ m...
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