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Farmers Get A Handle On Technology

Researchers at Massey University are working with the dairy industry to help our dairy farmers keep up to date with technological advancements.

Project leader Claire Massey said the he dairy industry has traditionally been good at undertaking the basic research that leads to high on-farm performance but It also has a history of giving farmers access to this research through the farm extension service.

"The industry now recognizes that farmers need to be faster at taking on board new ideas and implementing them," said Dr Massey "If industries want to be competitive in the international marketplace, all of the parties involved need to be operating effectively and communicating with each other."

The researchers have concluded that while improving farmers' management practices is important, better industry performance is also based on how well farmers accept the lead of industry bodies such as the New Zealand Dairy Board.

"This is the process of technological learning, and we are seeking ways to ensure this happens for all the groups that are part of the industry," said Dr Massey. "We have already identified constraints to growth and financial viability for small dairy farms and also examined the needs of Maori farmers." The research, an investment of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology is now looking at different ways of successfully engaging individuals in technological learning.

"We know that there are complex reasons that prevent farmers from adopting the latest practices and newest technologies, based on the particular characteristics of their situation. But we also know some of the ways in which these barriers can be overcome," said Dr Massey.

"For example, there are certain ways of helping farmers to make better decisions about change. And we can help them learn about different management tools as well as giving them access to the information they need as a starting point.

"But farmers will only use these tools once they 'buy in' to the goals that have been set. At the moment many of them feel excluded from the process - particularly those on the small farms that dominate the industry. This is why we think it is so important for industry bodies to work alongside farmers - to make sure their goals are aligned".

For further information: Dr Claire Massey, Massey University, Tel 04 8012794 x 6508 C.L.Massey@massey.ac.Mobile 025 2477194 Madeleine Setchell, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Tel 04 9177 806, Mobile 025 40 60 40, madelein@frst.govt.nz, www.frst.govt.nz

Madeleine Setchell Communications Adviser Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Tel 04 9177806 Mobile 025 40 60 40 www.frst.govt.nz


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