Webinar – Stimulating Private Sector Extension in Australian Agriculture to Increase Returns from Research and Development

The priority of this project has been to identify practical proposals to stimulate private sector extension services, particularly to fill current gaps. This webinar provides a great opportunity to hear about the projects key findings, the impacts and economics of the project, the potential options going forward and what the project has covered over the last three years since 2015.

Over a number of years to 2015 there had been an increasing trend toward increased private sector involvement in primary industry research, development and extension in Australia.

Extension is seen by the project as the process to facilitate desirable change and the project was particularly focussed at the farm level.

The degree of privatisation of extension services prior to 2015 had varied by agricultural sector. The private sector extension agents include farm input suppliers, independent fee for service advisers, processing companies or supply chain advisers, research and development corporations and farmer owned and operated groups.

The three key findings from the project overall are:

  1. The project has confirmed the privatisation of the extension system in Australia and the importance of the private sector in supporting farmers

  2. Private-sector providers recognise their important role in extension, but current engagement with them is ad hoc

  3. Private-sector providers see value in cross-sectoral efforts. The emphasis being at a regional level, or when dealing with new research areas or complex problems and in the field of professional development and the capacity building of the advisers themselves

The project has undertaken four action research trials to engage the private sector in critical challenges in extension, which are explained in detail in the webinar recording.

  1. Supply Chain (dairy, meat): Connecting advisers in the farm supply chain with industry research, development and extension
  2. Precision Agriculture: Increasing the capacity of private advisers to engage with digital agriculture applications
  3. Advisory pathways: New entrants and the provision of professional development opportunities
  4. Knowledge (research): Exploring ways for the private sector advisers to engage with the latest research

The project has made a marked contribution towards the longer-term goals to which it aspired

Through its collaborative approach, it gathered a new understanding and benchmarks around the current state of the public and private advisory landscape, trialled approaches to better support and integrate stakeholders into the RD&E system and most importantly started and fed the conversation about what changes are needed to effectively overhaul the model currently in place

Across all the project findings a number of potential future action areas were identified:

  1. Establish a National Working Group on private sector Research, Development and Extension
  2. Scale up the trials to more sectors
  3. More use of a co-innovation approach in more contexts
  4. Investing in broker roles for private sector engagement
  5. Greater engagement with specific private sector adviser (e.g. product resellers)
  6. Development of a business model for a professional development program in extension

Project Partners

For further information

Visit the project web page, click here.

Sign up for the project e-newsletter, click here.

See the Webinar, click here.

See the Webinar slides, click here.

Project Leaders:

Ian Linley. Project Manager, Dairy Australia. E: ilinley@dairyaustralia.com.au, Ph: 0422 814 579

Ruth Nettle. Leader, Rural Innovation Research Group, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, Melbourne University. E: ranettle@unimelb.edu.au, Ph: 0419 569 684