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  • AgInnovate Admin

What is extension?

Extension has many definitions.

Australasia Pacific Extension Network (APEN) defines extension as working with people in a community to facilitate change in an environment that has social, economic, and technical complexity.

The Australian state and territory governments in 2006 defined extension as "the process of enabling change in individuals, communities and industries involved with primary industries and natural resource management.” 

Here at AgInnovate we view extension as a professional skill, essential to working in the agricultural research, development and/or adoption industries. Essential to everyone from researchers to trial supervisors and project officers. We are all working with farm businesses to encourage adoption of new tools or practices on farm. To encourage change that will drive better economic, environmental, or personal outcomes for the farm business, and their families.

Extension is also about communicating the benefits of science and supporting its adoption on farm. To support adoption on-farm we need a good understanding of the culture of the farm business, the industry, the economic climate (how profitable are the farm businesses you are working with), the accessibility of the science, and robust support structures around the farm business. It is not just one person, but a range of people, services and businesses who support this change.

As an extension professional there are many theories we use that originate from inter-related fields such as change management, sociology, psychology, and other areas of social research. Many community health initiatives the world over, come from a background of agricultural extension research. Agriculture has been leading the way in researching social change and the adoption of new tools, technologies, and practices for decades. Research that has guided other industries in their approach to change management and adoption of improved practices.

Extension officers require a range of skills and attributes to be successful in their roles. They need to understand the science of agriculture, trial, project and event management; and have good communication skills. Things like KASA change, the adoption curve, adult learning styles, engagement strategies and stages of attitudinal change are just some of the key theories that drive how we set-up our extension programs, and our approach to their delivery. Knowing and applying these can give you confidence in how you approach your role as an extension officer, and also the effectiveness of the program you are delivering.

But what’s the best thing about agricultural extension? Well to me it is standing in a paddock with a group of growers, researchers, and advisors, looking at something someone has tried for the first time, and learning together. The buzz, the feeling of opportunity, the learnings, the two-way sharing of experiences. That’s what agricultural extension is all about.

Join us for one of our Micro-Extension courses - a great way to build your knowledge around extension -

Or phone Danielle on 0429 676077.

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