Submitted to: North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2010
Publication Date: June 23, 2010
Citation: Jayaratne, K.U., Schomberg, H.H., Raper, R.L., Balkcom, K.S., Archer, D.W., Kaphammer, B.J. 2010. Effetive methods in educating extension agents and farmers on conservation farming technology [abstract]. North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture. Technical Abstract: Adoption of new technologies requires transfer of information from developers to end users. Efficiency of the transfer process influences the rate of adoption and ultimate impact of the technology. Various channels are used to transfer technology from researchers to farmers. Two commonly used ones are direct (face to face) and indirect (through Extension Agents or publications). Conservation farming systems technology provides environmental and economic benefits over time that may not be readily apparent in the short term. Since benefits are not readily observable, it has been challenging to convince farmers to adopt this technology. We explored how agricultural scientists face this educational challenge by determining scientists’ perceptions about effective methods to educate farmers and Extension agents on conservation farming technology. Scientists from 18 states in the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Agricultural Systems National Program answered questions in a descriptive survey. We received 90 usable responses comprising a 67% response rate. Research publications, field demonstrations and one-on-one meetings were the methods ARS scientists most commonly used in educating Extension agents and farmers. ARS scientists perceived that direct contact through one-on-one meetings, field demonstrations, training workshops and group discussions were the most effective educational methods in teaching farmers and Extension agents. Even though, ARS scientists commonly used research journals as the main outlet in communicating research results, research publications were identified as the least effective method in educating farmers. In addition, ARS scientists perceived that videos and web postings were less effective methods in educating farmers compared to direct communication.