The $2.5 million Growers Leading Change project is a three-year industry extension programme jointly funded by the Ministry for Primary Industry’s (MPI) Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund and the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), the levy-funded research arm of the arable industry.
Growers Leading Change will develop an extension framework for the arable industry.
Project manager Anna Heslop says the knowledge exchange programme will help cropping farmers lift sustainable farming practices, while boosting efficiency and profitability in their own businesses.
In practice it means setting up a network of facilitated farm discussion groups, trial and demonstration farms, and a mobile learning centre to enable the growers to work and learn from each other.
“Arable growers, like other NZ farmers, are facing ever-increasing market, consumer, and regulatory demands,” Heslop said.
“While some growers are well set up to embrace these changes, many others have stalled and aren’t sure where to go or who to trust for advice.”
Growers Leading Change will provide those growers with access to appropriate, independent information and support.
“A lack of confidence, rather than a lack of knowledge, often slows grower adoption of new ideas and technologies,” she said.
“Our programme will provide a way for growers to identify the key issues that they feel they need support on and encourage growers to share information and ideas with each other.”
The programme will also run workshops, field days and other events aimed at upskilling arable farmers and their advisors in a range of agronomic, environmental and financial good management practices.
MPI investment programmes director Steve Penno says supporting arable farmers to exchange information will be invaluable.
“There are so many farmers doing fantastic work and who have valuable experience and insights that will be useful for the wider sector,” he said.
“We’re excited to be part of this project and enabling this information-sharing.
“It’s also a great way for FAR to share the outcomes of their extensive research into sustainable farming.”