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Michael Walsh, Research Associate Professor, University of Western Australia
I’d like to relate a recent experience I had involving extension and adoption. We recently ran a series of workshops in Eastern Australia to communicate harvest weed-seed control techniques developed in Western Australia, which has a larger weed-resistance problem. Along with researchers such as myself, we invited three farmers to present at the workshops. Each had adopted a different form of harvest weed-seed control in Western Australia: chaff cuts, narrow-windrow burning, and the Harrington seed destructor. At the workshops, it was quickly apparent that growers did not want to hear about research results; they just really wanted to hear about the practical experiences the three growers had had in using these technologies. The farmers in Eastern Australia wanted to use them and were ready to adopt, but listening to presentations on the results was not enough to convince them. They wanted to hear how they could set up these systems in their own farms and what it actually meant to their farming systems if they did take on these technologies. The workshops went on for two weeks. Two months later I was back in these same areas setting up harvest weed-seed control trials, and the number of fields I saw that were set up for windrow burning or that had chaff cuts in them was just staggering. There were literally hundreds of thousands of acres that had been transformed and set up for taking on those practices. Because of this widespread adoption, we have had to modify our approach to try to support the growers who have taken up these technologies so quickly. We need to subsequently support them in making sure they get those practices right.
Russian thistle (Salsola tragus), courtesy of Stan Shebs (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki?File:Salsola_tragus_2.jpg).