This project was completed in 2018. The Project Key Findings is available on the Publications page, a copy can be found here.
A project to research, develop and test models for enhancing the capacity of the commercial and private sector in delivering R&D extension services to Australian producers.
This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.
About the project
Stimulating private sector extension in Australian agriculture to increase returns from R&D is a three-year project to research, develop and test models to build the capacity of the commercial and private sector in delivering R&D extension services to Australian producers.
Led by Dairy Australia, the project is a collaboration involving nine partner organisations – six RDCs (Dairy Australia, Meat & Livestock Australia, Cotton Research & Development Corporation, Sugar Research Australia, Australian Pork Limited, Horticulture Innovation Australia), the Victorian and NSW governments, and the University of Melbourne.
The project is funded by the partners and the Australian Government's Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of the Australian Government’s Rural Research and Development for Profit program.
Why it's needed
Like most overseas countries, Australian agricultural extension was traditionally delivered by government-funded organisations, such as State departments of agriculture. Over the past 20 years, industry and private services have taken increasing roles in delivering agricultural extension. Currently the extent of private sector involvement in extension varies across industries, depending on product markets, policy settings, regional issues and industry demographics.
The private sector is now a well-used information source for producers, however there is scope to enhance the capability of the private sector in delivering extension. Improving the capacity of private extension service providers will contribute to on-farm productivity gains and profitability.
Stimulating private sector extension in Australian agriculture to increase returns from R&D will receive $3.19 million cash and in-kind over three years from nine partner organisations and the Australian Government.
About Rural R&D for Profit
Stimulating private sector extension in Australian agriculture to increase returns from R&D is supported through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.
The Australian Government’s Rural Research and Development (R&D) for Profit program is a $180.5 million competitive grants program.
The program aims to improve farm-gate productivity and profitability and deliver real outcomes for Australian producers through:
- Generating knowledge, technologies, products or processes that benefit primary producers;
- Strengthening pathways to extend the results of rural R&D, including understanding the barriers to adoption; and,
- Establishing and fostering industry and research collaborations that form the basis for ongoing innovation and growth of Australian agriculture.
The project Stimulating private sector extension in Australian agriculture to increase returns from R&D was granted money in the first round of funding approved by the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP.
The project will deliver the following key outcomes:
- Improve profit on-farm through a private sector that is more engaged in driving innovation based on the latest research and industry best practice;
- Make research more accessible to farmers through a more integrated and co-operative extension system;
- Identify barriers to private sector involvement in delivering R&D to farmers;
- Stimulate further growth of a capable private sector, through the training and retention of professionals to ensure they have the extension skills and capability to meet industry needs; and,
- Build a stronger connection between end users and researchers by trialling different approaches to increase engagement.
The project uses a ‘co-innovation’ approach to:
- Develop an understanding of the private extension sector and how it engages with producers and R&D; identify barriers to private sector involvement in agricultural extension;
- Develop and pilot test practical interventions in real situations and analyse the outcomes to better define the underlying issues and the way they are best addressed.
The project involves five key areas of activity:
- Review of models of engagement (literature review/guided conversations);
- Determine drivers of demand (regional forums);
- Identify private sector networks (online surveys);
- Pilot test models to stimulate private sector engagement (trials), and;
- Develop agricultural extension training modules (training).
Oversight and support to these activities involves:
- National forums for stakeholders;
- Internal and expert panel;
- Evaluation; and,
- DECEMBER 2015
Review models of private sector engagement in priority setting and in delivery
Method: literature review/guided conversations
- JUNE 2016
Identify key areas of strategic need for private sector engagement, including private advisory sector’s capability and capacity issues, and drivers of producer demand for private extension services
Method: regional consultation forums with producers/advisers
- DECEMBER 2016
Quantify learning from regional consultation forums on key areas of need (private sector advisers) and drivers of demand for private extension services (producers). Develop a base-line understanding of private provider networks and market failure (private capability and capacity issues)
Method: online surveys, modelling/economic analysis, social network analysis
Establish four trials to stimulate the private sector. Identify and trial models to further deliver benefits to the private advisory sector and producers
Method: collaborative cross-case learning
- DECEMBER 2016-2017
Develop and pilot test agricultural extension training modules
Method: training/professional development
The project design and implementation is based on the conceptual framework of Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS). The research approach combines quantitative and qualitative methods (surveys, national and regional focus groups, interviews, participant observation and four action research case studies (trials)). The overarching method is action research to facilitate the collaborative learning between research and development corporations, investors, farmers, and advisers. It includes the peer-reviewed development of eight extension training modules. These activities are supported and guided by an Expert panel.
On this page
Dairy Australia is leading Stimulating private sector extension in Australian agriculture to increase returns from R&D on behalf of the nine partner organisations. The research is being conducted by the University of Melbourne’s Rural Innovation Research Group in consultation with project management and steering committees and an Expert Panel. For more information, contact Project Manager Ian Linley on 0422 814 579 or email email@example.com.
- Ian Linley*, Project Manager, Dairy Australia
- Neil Webster*, Dairy Australia
- Irene Sobotta*, Meat and Livestock Australia
- Warwick Waters*, Cotton Research and Development Corporation
- Ashley Norval, Australian Pork Limited
- Peter Samson, Sugar Research Australia Limited
- Bianca Cairns, Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited
- Ruth Nettle*, The University of Melbourne
- Jana-Axinja Paschen*, The University of Melbourne
- Joe Sullivan, NSW Department of Primary Industries
- * Also members of Management Committee
- Jeff Coutts, Coutts J&R Evaluation
- Steve Coats, Dairy industry consultant, Curlew Connections
Project officers - Trials
- Jacqui Knee, Processor trial
- Bruce Hancock, Consultant, Processor trial
- Viv McCollum, Precision ag trial
- Sally Martin, Advisory pathways trial
- Jim Shovelton, Knowledge trial
The project has convened an ‘Expert Panel’ to contribute to the strategic design of the program of work and its impact over the three years and to foster critical reflection throughout the project.
The panel is a “thought leadership group”, consisting of Australian and international leaders in the field of private sector roles in agricultural innovation.
|Assoc Prof Laurens Klerkx||Wageningen University, Netherlands (Agricultural policy, systems, communications)|
|Mick Keogh||Executive Director Australian Farm Institute & Chairman, National Rural Advisory; Council, Agricultural Commissioner ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)|
|Dr Mark Paine||DairyNZ, Wellington (Strategy and Investment Leader, Business and People, DairyNZ)|
|Assoc Prof Ruth Nettle||The University of Melbourne (leader, Rural Innovation Research Group)|
|Richard Price||Director, Twinbrook Pty Ltd; ex CEO of Kondinin Group and Australian Export Grain Innovation Centre. Nuffield Scholar|
|Dr Jeff Coutts||Extension and measurement & evaluation (private consultant)|
|Steve Coats||Private and public career in dairy extension and communication. Board Member DairyBio and principal Curlew Connections Pty Ltd|
An action research project, Stimulating private sector extension in Australian agriculture to increase returns from R&D relies heavily on the participation of producers and extension personnel, especially in our forums and trials.
There are nine partner organisations:
- E-newsletter June 2018
- E-newsletter April 2018
- E-newsletter September 2017
- E-newsletter June 2017
- E-newsletter March 2017
- E-newsletter December 2016
- E-newsletter September 2016
- E-newsletter June 2016
To keep informed of project updates, sign up for our e-newsletter.
- Project factsheet
- Fact sheet - trials
- Fact sheet - forums
- Workshop Paper: Farmers adopting and farmers benefitting from R&D – where are we now?
- Privatising Agricultural Extension: Report A - Farmer demand
- Privatising Agricultural Extension: Report B - Adviser supply
- Privatising Agricultural Extension: Report C - Advisory extension system
- Privatising Agricultural Extension: Report D - Network analysis
- Privatising Agricultural Extension: Report E - Professional development of farm advisers
- Privatising Agricultural Extension: Report G - Trial 1 Processors
- Privatising Agricultural Extension: Report H - Trial 2 Precision agriculture
- Privatising Agricultural Extension: Report I - Trial 3 Advisory pathways
- Privatising Agricultural Extension: Report J - Trial 4 Knowledge
- Privatising Agricultural Extension: Report K - Cross Trial Results
- Extension Trial Symposium summary outcomes report
- Practical Guidelines for Engagement
- Project Key Findings
- Project Case Studies
News and Media
- Podcast - Agtech - So What? by Sarah Nolet on Apple Podcasts
Episode 31: Viv and Margaret, Released 22 January 2019
- Media Release - 25th September, 2017
The value of Australian rural Research and Development is on the rise, according to a new report released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). Acting Assistant Secretary of ABARES' Agricultural Productivity and Farm Analysis branch, David Galeano, said the Rural research, development and extension investment in Australia report showed the value of Australia's rural RD&E jumped from $2.6 billion in 2005-06 to $3.3 billion in 2014-15, in real terms. The full report is available at agriculture.gov.au/rural-research-and-development
- Media Release - 1st May, 2017
- Media Release - 18th April, 2017
- Media Release - 20th March 2017
- Media Release - 5th January, 2017
- Media Release - 5th June, 2016
- Arresting the decline of farm agricultural extension services @ABCRural