22 - Extension
The Cicerone Project was a partnership between livestock producers, researchers and extension specialists on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia that investigated several complex grazing enterprise issues between 1998 and 2006. It was conducted as a Participatory Action Research project, which first surveyed livestock producers to learn of their problems and then carried out investigations according to the Project’s chosen motto of ‘compare – measure – learn – adopt’. The Project included research into footrot diagnosis and an investigation of whole-farmlet livestock and pasture management systems complemented by a multi-faceted extension and education component, which delivered findings to a wide array of stakeholders across the Northern Tablelands and adjacent regions.
This paper describes the extension and education methods and outcomes and reflects on how successful the engagement of livestock producers was through a partnership, which focussed on co-learning by all participants. Several different communication approaches were used including the production of 40 newsletters and the delivery of 61 field days. Collaborators also held two symposia, which presented comprehensive overviews of the research results. In the final year of the Project, a roadshow was held to communicate results to a wider audience in neighbouring districts.
The results of the two footrot trials, which were conducted as Participatory Action Research projects, led to rapid and substantial changes in the testing regime for virulent footrot, resulting in large savings for livestock producers through more accurate detection of the disease. Other valued extension and industry outcomes were the ability to compare the biophysical and economic performance of different whole farmlets, an appreciation of the value of the whole-farm system approach, the trustworthiness of the results and the stimulation of livestock producers to think more deeply about their management systems, stocking rate and risk.
The Project benefited from the research efforts of four postgraduate students and was of benefit to ~300 high school and technical college students and also some 500 university undergraduate students who undertook learning projects in conjunction with Project members and collaborators. This Special Issue of 24 journal papers represents a substantial delivery of the findings from this complex agroecosystem Project, which broke new ground in terms of securing much closer working relationships between livestock producers, scientists and extension specialists. Ultimately, this volume will allow extension of the results of the Cicerone Project to reach a wider audience than has typically been achieved through other Participatory Action Research projects.
Delivering extension and adult learning outcomes from the Cicerone Project by ‘comparing, measuring, learning and adopting’
Link to published Abstract and Full paper: Click here ...