New Zealand has played a key role in developing innovative extension models designed to support farmers to adopt new, evidence-based, farming practices. However, this momentum has been lost over recent years. A fresh and innovative model of extension is needed to ensure that New Zealand farmers learn about highly-effective technologies. The Farmer Learning Project, now in its third year, is a multi-disciplinary research venture that aims to find out how to promote farmers’ learning and adoption of evidence-based practices. This paper provides an overview of the Farmer Learning Project at Massey University and its innovations designed to promote learning about herb-mix pastures containing chicory, plantain and red and white clover. Five critical success factors shown to support the farmers’ learning are discussed. These include the importance of participation in a sustained and inquiry-focused farmer-scientist learning community, and their engagement in a variety of repeated and relevant learning experiences that are aligned to science. Underpinning these success factors are seven educational principles that need to inform design innovations in agricultural extension. Early findings are also shared from the second phase of the project, which investigates the farmers’ practice change as a result of their learning about herb pastures and its ability to create high performance sheep grazing systems.

AM, Sewell, HT Blair, DI Grey, M Hartnett, PD Kemp, PR Kenyon, ST Morris, and BA Wood

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 74, Napier, 166-172, 2014
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