Farmers and scientists working at odds


Sound innovations were not always accepted by landholders: If there is one central message from this review it might be summed up as “adoption occurs when the landholder perceives that the innovation … will enhance the achievement of their personal … economic, social and environmental goals.” By contrast, non-adoption or low adoption of sound innovations can come down to its failure to provide relative advantage or to difficulties that landholders have in trialling them.

Australia needs more adoption of innovation: The authors comment that the current level of adoption of innovation in Australia is far short of what will be required to arrest the landscape-scale degradation caused by issues such as dryland salinity and biodiversity loss.

Scientists should know what landholders are doing: To support high levels of adoption, biophysical scientists are encouraged to be conscious of the type of practices landholders adopt more readily — those with high relative advantage and high trialability. A participatory approach with landholders encourages engagement, which can lead to adoption, and this should be supported by a real awareness of what landholders are already doing and why they do it.

"Communication" needs substance for farmers to accept change: The reviewers contest a conventional premise that lack of adoption implies inadequate communication. Rather than advocating a greater effort to improve communication of research ‘products’, they argue farmers are already deluged with information, some of which is contradictory. For communication to really enhance extension it needs to be founded on “credibility, reliability, legitimacy, and the decision-making process”.

Reference: Focus on Salt, Issue 39, December 2006, ISSN: 1444-7703. Contact: David Pannell, Phone: (08) 9842 0820. Email: Document is available at:

Erisk Net, 10/1/2007

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