Title: Farming systems research and extension
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00094299/00001
 Material Information
Title: Farming systems research and extension helping research results solve farm problems
Physical Description: 4 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hildebrand, Peter E.
Publisher: Food and Resource Economics Dept., University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1986
Copyright Date: 1986
Subject: Agriculture -- Research -- On-farm   ( lcsh )
Agricultural systems -- Research   ( lcsh )
Agricultural extension work   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: "Prepared for presentation at the Research/Extension Conference, North Carolina A and T State University, May 19-21, 1986."
General Note: Caption title.
Statement of Responsibility: by Peter E. Hildebrand.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094299
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 433551040

Full Text

S. -73-2


Peter E. Hildebrand
Food and Resource Economics Department
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611

Prepared for presentation at the
Research/Extension Conference
North Carolina A and T State University
May 19-21, 1986


Peter E. Hildebrand


Research results taken directly from laboratories, offices,
computers or experiment stations are seldom directly useful in
solving problems on farms. The technologies thus produced must
1) be adapted to the real world conditions of the farmers who are
going to be using them and 2) be effective when put to use.
This applies across the board from exotic biotechnology results
to the results of traditional soils analyses.

Adaptation to real world conditions and effectiveness in use
are necessary, though not sufficient conditions for technology
to be useful to help solve farm problems. Farmers must also be
made aware of the existence of the technology that could solve
their problem.

Awareness of the existence of the technology is also a
necessary condition, but alone, or in combination with adaptation
and effectiveness, is still not sufficient for solving problems.

Before new, adapted and effective technology known to
farmers is able to solve their problems, farmers must also learn
how to use the technology in order for it to have an impact on
their production system.

All four of these necessary conditions, taken together, are
sufficient for research to help in solving farm problems.
Research results must be adapted to real world conditions and
effective when put to use. Farmers must be aware that the
technology exists and must learn how to use it. This set of
conditions provides the framework for the discussion set forth in
this paper.


"Inherent in the farming systems approach is the recognition
of the complexity and variability of the circumstances and
problems faced by farmers in managing their farms as a whole,
comprised of inter-related crop, animal, household, and off-farm
enterprises." (Wotowiec et al., 1986) Each farm could, in the
extreme, be considered a separate environment if environment is
defined as the result of all the bio-physical and socio-economic
forces that affect production conditions on each farm. It is
evident that the production response to a technology will be

Page 2

different for different environments. It follows that
technologies need to be designed for the different kinds of
environments found on farms and that the technology that is
effective on one farm might not be effective on another.

For the same reason that farms vary considerably, the risk
acceptance of different farmers will also vary. Those farmers in
an area who are living close to the minimum socially acceptable
level will view risk from a different perspective than a neighbor
who is relatively well off and would not be affecting the
well-being of the family were a new technology to prove
ineffective or have a deleterious effect on production.

Partly for the risk factor, but also because farmers must
learn how to use a new technology (the two are related), it is
well established that most farmers adopt technology a component
at a time rather than accepting and using a complete
technological innovation initially, particularly for something
they are familiar with producing.


The Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E) approach
to technology innovation is based on the close collaboration of
farmers throughout the research and extension process in order to
speed it up. Farmers provide resources to help solve their
problems and become resources themselves, in the evaluation and
dissemination of alternative solutions and in the feedback of
information to research. One of the most effective means of
achieving this collaboration is through on-farm research (OFR).
Because farmers are not professional researchers, although they
all experiment with different ideas as a matter of course,
research designs and technology to be tested must be simple so
that farmers will be able to manage them in the OFR process.
This also fits in with the farmers' usual procedure of adopting
simple components of technology rather than complete (and
complex) packages.

All farmers in an area, however, cannot be active
collaborators with multidisciplinary FSR/E teams and have new
technology tested on their own farms. Farms and farmers can be
grouped into various relatively homogeneous groups for purposes
of research and extension and this is done in the FSR/E approach.
The process has been called targeting (Wotowiec et al., 1986).
"Although the concept of targeting might seem contrary to the
recognition of heterogeneity among farms, it is an essential
component of the farming systems approach. It is not practical
to conduct research tailored specifically to a few individual
farmers. On the other hand, research carried out for farmers in
general is unlikely to produce technologies which are appropriate
to all the varied types of farming systems present".

Targeting is accomplished by the use of the concept of
domains. Wotowiec et al. suggest the use of research domains to
target for variability. "A research domain is a problem-focused

Page 3

environmental range throughout which it is expected that
hypothesized solutions to a defined problem could have potential
applicability and therefore should be tested". In a research
domain, the biophysical and socioeconomic variability that
exists is explicitly taken into account by studying the
interaction between technology and environment.

To target the homogeneous groups of farmers for whom a
technology should be appropriate, the term recommendation domain
is used. Recommendation domains are defined based upon the
response of a specific technology to the real agro-socioeconomic
conditions found on farms.

On-farm research, by being located on farms, serves the dual
role of providing for experiential and informational learning
(Hildebrand, 1985). These two aspects of the extension function
are carried out more efficiently when OFR is targeted into
existing diffusion domains. Diffusion domains are the
interpersonal communication networks through which newly acquired
knowledge of agricultural technologies naturally flows
(Hildebrand 1985). While the farmers upon whose land the
research is being conducted are benefiting from experiential
learning, others in the diffusion network also benefit from
informational learning.

Statistically, evaluation of the technologies being tested
over a wide range of environments in OFR can be by Modified
Stability Analysis (Hildebrand, 1984) which provides a means of
utilizing treatment by environment interaction to select those
treatments which are superior for better environments or those
more effective in poorer environments.


Because FSR/E blends research and extension functions, it
should be staffed by persons from both the research and extension
services of a Land Grant-type university or national ministry of
agriculture. When persons from both of these organizations are
working together with farmers, feedback from the farm to the
research stations and laboratories is facilitated and more
efficient than when such feedback information must be passed from
a farmer to a person from one organization (extension service)
and then passed to a person from another organization (research).
Furthermore, when farmers are active in the evaluation process,
their sense of urgency is transmitted to the FSR/E team which in
turn can transmit it to the personnel at the laboratories and
experiment stations. This direct orientation of research toward
the urgent problems of the clients makes research it more
efficient in producing needed technologies than when it is peer-
or discipline-oriented and two steps isolated from the farmer.

The,FSR/E approach, then, is an efficient means of
incorporating the necessary and sufficient conditions for
technology innovation with an efficient means for obtaining the

Page 4

feedback required to orient research toward the solution of farm


Hildebrand, P.E. 1984. Modified stability analysis of
farmer managed, on-farm trials. Agron. J. 76:272-274.

Hildebrand, P.E. 1985. On-farm research: Organized
community adaptation, learning and diffusion for
efficient agricultural technology innovation.
Farming Systems Support Project Newsletter 3:4:6-7.

Wotowiec, Peter., Susan Poats, and P.E. Hildebrand. 1986.
Research, recommendation, and diffusion domains: A
farming systems approach to targeting. Conference on
Gender Issues in Farming Systems Research and
Extension. University of Florida.

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