Promoting productivity - enhancing research, development, extension and adoption

Promoting productivity - enhancing research, development, extension and adoption

Australian primary producers have an enviable record in innovation and productivity. Evidence suggests that the recent slowdown in productivity gains in Australian agriculture are associated with a decline in the intensity of public and private investment in research and innovation. Productivity improvement is vital to offset the declining terms of trade continually faced by primary producers, helping manage rising input costs and minimise impacts on the natural environment.

AgForce is an active supporter of agricultural research, development, extension and adoption (RDEA) has been involved in a number of initiatives to promote ongoing investment in productivity raising innovations and in assisting producers to adopt useful technologies and improved practices. AgForce owns two research stations, 'Belmont' and 'Brian Pastures', where industry relevant research and training occurs as well as education programs for the next generation of primary producers. AgForce also has representation on peak bodies with input into research agendas and advocates to governments for funding of RDEA.

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Research Development and Extension

Issue:
Research, development and extension (RD&E) within agricultural industries is critical to ensuring our industries are sustainable, with minimal environmental impact, and robust R&D can deliver strong rates of adoption when supported by effective extension activities.

For agricultural industries, the time lag between scientific advancements and adoption can be considerable. For industries to continue to thrive, reducing the time taken for R&D to become commercialised into something usable on-farm is vital. In the grains industry, there must be a streamlined process from pre-breeding, breeding and commercialisation which results in new, more resilient or productive varieties being rolled out for commercial use. This rapid rollout is particularly important as producers themselves, through the levy system, contribute a significant portion of the R&D investment.

Governments are challenged by many budgetary pressures and competing priorities. But there is a significant risk of research, development, extension and adoption (RDE&A) underinvestment, particularly towards public-good issues. During the 2015 financial year, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) invested $63 million of State funds into RD&E programs, or just 0.48 per cent of the combined value of horticulture, livestock and livestock products, and cropping in the State.  Quite clearly, the intensity of the State Government's R&D investment into agriculture is insufficient when compared with the State's agricultural output.

Given the significant challenges facing broadacre agriculture and the public benefits that accrue from rural R&D investment, a strong public and private sector commitment to agricultural innovation is vital.

Solutions that AgForce advocates:

  • Promoting a government-industry co-investment model for R&D that is underpinned by effective industry consultation that collectively identifies R&D priorities and enhances collaboration that produces adoption of research findings
  • Government(s) that provide leadership in long-term direction setting, such as integrating broader public policy outcomes into a more production-focussed R&D agenda, and that allows policy and regulatory settings conducive to more industry R&D investment
  • Governments committing to capacity building and skills retention through innovative and more affordable ways of accessing training and skills improvement
  • A RD&E system that supports producers to manage seasonal risks more effectively and reduces the impacts of natural disasters and drought
  • A system that results in rapid on-ground adoption of targeted knowledge and technologies delivering both private and public benefits.

Promoting productivity - enhancing research, development, extension and adoption

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