Supporting grower groups to better inform farmers

| Posted Feb 09,2024

Based in the wheatbelt of Western Australia, West Midlands Group is one of 20 grower group participants in the Soil CRC. Their dedication to agricultural research communication and extension means they’re well placed to lead a Soil CRC project that is helping grower groups better deliver information to farmers.

The ‘risk and reward’ project aims to develop a reporting tool that grower groups and extension officers can use to communicate the risks and benefits of new farming technologies and practices to end-users.

West Midlands Group’s Project Communications Officer, Simon Kruger, said the reporting tool has undergone several iterations and has now evolved into a writing guide, design template and onboarding suite, collectively referred to as the Risk Reward Tool.  

“The new Risk Reward Tool is designed to help grower groups produce farmer-friendly, informative technical reports to communicate trial and project results,” he said.

“Our initial research findings have demonstrated the need for clear, concise, and farmer-centric information in project extension and communication materials.

“The evolution of the Risk Reward Tool reflects these findings, as well as industry recognition of the need for improved agricultural communications and extension,” Simon explained.

The project team will continue to finesse the reporting tool to ensure technical reports effectively speak the language of farmers, facilitating their understanding and decision-making processes, while simultaneously providing a support tool for grower groups.

“This standardisation not only expedites report writing but also guarantees consistent quality and format across different regions and farming communities,” Simon said.

“Grower groups using the tool can tailor reports to their specific needs, dedicating more resources to direct support and outreach.”

The project team surveyed farmers and found that financial feasibility is an important factor for farmers considering new technologies. Simon said the Risk Reward Tool aims to tackle this concern by including a section on the production of detailed economic analyses in technical reports.

“The inclusion of these analyses in reporting aims to provide farmers with clear visualisations of potential returns, cost comparisons, and resource allocation considerations,” he said.

Armed with this data, farmers can make informed decisions about investments and financial implications, enabling them to maximise the potential benefits of new innovations and technologies.

Soil CRC CEO Dr Michael Crawford said the CRC is excited to support this grower group-led research project to help identify better ways to disseminate its research outputs.

“We believe the potential usefulness and applicability of the Risk Reward Tool goes well beyond soils and the Soil CRC – it extends to a whole lot of other research areas that grower groups get involved with,” Dr Crawford noted.

User testing is now underway with participating grower groups to help shape the final version of the tool. This will ensure it effectively addresses both grower group and farmer needs and challenges.

“Open communication and collaboration remain key to the project’s success, guaranteeing the Risk Reward Tool becomes an asset for grower groups, ultimately benefiting farmers and the broader agricultural industry through focused, user-friendly, and informative technical reporting,” Simon concluded.

Collaborators in the Soil CRC project include Corrigin Farm Improvement Group (WA), Central West Farming Systems (NSW) and Charles Sturt University.

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