Improving the uptake of Australia’s world-class research and development will require greater consideration of farmers’ attitude to change, according to Nuffield Scholar and grain grower Chris Reichstein.
Mr Reichstein, who owns and operates a 4500ha grains enterprise north-east of Esperance in Western Australia, has used his research to focus on how best to deliver scientific information to farmers in order to effect practice change and improve profitability and sustainability.
He also looked at international research and development models to bridge the gap between researchers and farmers to improve the performance of the agricultural sector.
‘‘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,’’ he said.
The scholarship took Mr Reichstein around the world not only to examine different research and development models, but also to identify some of the key barriers to adoption.
Through his research Mr Reichstein also identified key barriers to adoption within Australia and said it might be time to look outside of the current supply-driven top-down model.
‘‘There’s potential to explore other models like the bottom-up approach, which involves local farmers working collaboratively with public or private institutions, and lends itself towards being demand driven,’’ he said.
‘‘One of the key findings of my report was that individual farmers are perhaps the greatest variable between enterprises when it comes to the financial and physical performance of a farm and that variations in behaviour can be based on past experiences right through to different personalities.
‘‘So, having a more tailored and multi-pronged approach to packaging and delivering research could result in greater adoption on-farm and provide stronger return on investment.’’