1 - Beginnings of project
A unique project led by livestock producers, called the Cicerone Project, was undertaken on the Northern Tablelands region of New South Wales, Australia, following acknowledgement by those producers of a widening gap between them and research and extension information. The overall aim of the project was to co-learn, through a partnership between livestock producers, research, extension and other specialists, how to improve the profitability and sustainability of grazing enterprises in that region. It was hypothesised that closer engagement would help to guide relevant research efforts and also enhance the adoption of research findings. With the support of industry funding and the collaboration of key research, education and extension partners, the inaugural steering committee of the Cicerone Project commissioned a survey of over 300 land managers in the region to explore their research and adoption needs. The survey identified the most important issues and found a high level of commitment to the formation of this producer-led project. Negotiations between all collaborators led to the creation of a Business Plan prepared as the basis for an initial funding period of 5 years. Subsequent reviews of the project allowed for extensions with associated activities over an additional 4 years. In order to study the key farm management alternatives identified from the producer survey, the Cicerone Project Board decided to adopt an agricultural ecosystem approach which conducted studies using three whole-farmlet systems. The farmlet experiment compared three contiguous farmlets by measuring as many aspects of the farm systems as possible using an approach summarised in the motto adopted by the Cicerone Project of ‘compare–measure–learn–adopt’. A wide range of field days and seminars were held over the duration of the project to deliver the results to the producer members. This paper provides an introduction to a Special Issue containing 24 papers which report on the entirety of the project from planning, to execution, results, and reflections on the value obtained from the many research and extension activities, with particular emphasis on the farming systems trial conducted between 2000 and 2006.
Creating the Cicerone Project: seeking closer engagement between livestock producers, research and extension
Link to published Abstract and Full paper: Click here ...