Targeting key perceptions when planning and evaluating extension

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Early identification of farmer perceptions influencing particular farm management decisions provides the opportunity to more effectively focus investment in research and extension. A survey-based study examining the adoption of integrated weed management by Western Australian grain growers was used to demonstrate how identification of key farmer perceptions can help to guide research and extension priorities. It was found that the adoption of integrated weed management practices was influenced by grower perceptions of herbicide resistance-related factors and of the efficacy and economic value of integrated weed management practices in the farming system. However, there were generally no significant differences between the perceptions of practice efficacy held by users and non-users of the integrated weed management practices. As initial perceptions of efficacy were generally consistent with local field experience, it was expected that extension would not have a major influence on this variable. Consistent with this, participation by growers in a workshop based on the bio-economic farming systems model, resistance integrated management ( RIM), did not result in changes in perceptions of practice efficacy. However, changes in the perceived short-term economic value of some weed management practices did occur where the broader value of practices to the farming system, not necessarily relating to weed control, could be demonstrated. This also led to more growers deciding to adopt those practices. For example, intended wheat seeding rates were shown to increase by 5 kg/ha as a result of participation in the extension activity. Determining the perceptions influencing adoption, and then identifying the major learning opportunities can be valuable in focusing research and extension. Measures of perceptions also allow learning to be evaluated. In the case study of adoption of the integrated weed management practices in WA, it seems that emphasis on developing and extending the farming-systems impacts beyond just weed and resistance management is likely to be more effective than focusing on the efficacy of the practices for controlling major weeds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1627-1633
JournalAustralian Journal of Experimental Agriculture
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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