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The Future of Agricultural Extension by Australian Universities. Professor Rick Roush Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture Melbourne School of Land and Environment University of Melbourne. http://www.csu.edu.au/special/acda/index.html. “Extension” as a short hand.

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Professor Rick Roush Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture


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The Future of Agricultural Extension by Australian Universities

Professor Rick Roush

Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture

Melbourne School of Land and Environment

University of Melbourne

http://www.csu.edu.au/special/acda/index.html

ACDA

extension as a short hand
“Extension” as a short hand
  • “Traditionally”, expert authorities passing along facts, knowledge, wisdom
  • More recently, knowledge partnerships based on joint inquiry
overview
Overview
  • Relatively low contributions by Universities currently and why
  • Plausible lessons from the US Land Grant University System
  • Possible actions
who does agricultural r d
Who does agricultural R&D?

% expenditure

1996/97

$1099m

2006/07

$1716m

Source: ABS

long lead times for adoption
Long lead times for adoption

There are long lags between research discovery and take-up by farmers

No-till in

Southern

Australia

Source: D’Emden et al. (2006) Technological forecasting and Social Change, 73: 630-47

share of acreage planted to different types of corn varieties alston et al
Share of acreage planted to different types of corn varieties (Alston et al.)

Hybrid corn

19 years

13 yrs

GE corn

what does it take for adoption
What does it take for adoption?
  • Even good ideas take time, even with strong evidence of performance
  • Typically, there are “champions” in the research or farm organisations who develop over years a close working relationship with the farming community and continue to promote the idea(s)
  • Risk is the lost opportunity cost of delays in adoption or failure to adopt at all
funding model in unis is for teaching
Funding Model in Unis Is For Teaching
  • Universities lose money on research!
  • Cutler Review (2008) of the National Innovation System: “Adopt the principle of fully funding the costs of university research activities”
  • University of Melbourne: About $700M invested in Research from $400M funded

ACDA

status of agricultural extension by unis
Status of Agricultural Extension by Unis
  • Staff and administrative focus has to be on teaching; most university promotion based on research and teaching (some on knowledge transfer now at U of Melbourne)
  • Once the grant runs out, not only is there little incentive for extension, there is no funding even for costs like travel

ACDA

who does agricultural r d1
Who does agricultural R&D?

% expenditure

1996/97

$1099m

2006/07

$1716m

Source: ABS

grdc seed of light awards 1999 2011
GRDC Seed of Light Awards 1999-2011

“a significant contribution to communicating the outcomes of research”.

current agricultural extension by unis
Current Agricultural Extension by Unis?
  • Not quite moribund, but not obviously reaching the potential implied by the roughly 20% of research funding and unique expertise
  • University staff are especially aligned with teaching and establishing a rapport with much of the next generation of agriculturalists
  • Asset and opportunity lost, especially with decline of state activity??

ACDA

us land grant universities history
US Land Grant Universities (history)
  • From 1862 (Hatch Act), state grants of land
  • Smith-Lever Act of 1914 established Cooperative Extension Service (Federal and State authorities cooperating)
  • Many academics have joint Extension/Research/Teaching Appointments, even across USDA and state agencies
  • Very successful; relationships established with students often continue for decades, linking Unis to the field adoption
us land grant universities funding
US Land Grant Universities (funding)
  • Funded in part by USDA at about $1 Billion annually, mostly on statutory formula with mandatory and public reporting
  • Funds typically used for base operating support, including travel, etc.
  • Scaled to Australia at 1/15 the size, about $67M; would likely offer modest budget surplus to ag schools across Australia
  • Typically also some state govt $$ support
summary
Summary
  • Universities under-performing compared to research grant success and knowledge capital
  • US Land Grant University System much more effective; linked in to funding, research and future land managers
actions personal view
Actions (personal view)
  • Reinvest in Universities to help fill the gap of knowledge partnerships: allow public and ag industry to reap full benefits of agricultural research investment by all parties, but probably especially in the “public good”
  • Fund by formula directly to Ag Faculties and Schools based on numbers of academics on continuing appointments with ag focus, from public funds committed to RDCs
contact
Contact ?
  • rroush@unimelb.edu.au