Changes in practices and decisions resulting from the paired-paddock model used in the Grassland’s Productivity Program Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Summary. A detailed survey was undertaken in the spring of 1995 with 20 wool producers in south-west Victoria and the south-east of South Australia to determine the impact of their participation for 18 months in a program called the Grassland’s Productivity Program. This program involved groups of producers establishing paired-paddock comparisons on their own farms with guidance from an experienced facilitator. Productive pasture practices (increased fertiliser rates, responsive pasture species and high stocking rates) were used in one paddock, while the remaining paddock was managed with existing practices. A second group of 15 producers from the same districts who did not participate in the Grassland’s Productivity Program were selected at random and also surveyed. Although the 2 groups of producers had similar pasture productivity parameters (phosphorus fertiliser, stocking rates and pasture resowing rates) in the autumn of 1993, the Grassland’s Productivity Program participants had significantly (P<0.05) increased phosphorus fertiliser rates on average from 5.7 to 10.5 kg P/ha, stocking rates from 9.4 to 10.7 dse/ha, and the area of the farm that was being resown to new pasture from 2.9 to 4.0%, by the spring of 1995. There was no change in the pasture practices of the non- Grassland’s Productivity Program producers over this period. The Grassland’s Productivity Program participants also increased their use of soil testing and plant tissue testing and changed their rationale for making fertiliser and stocking decisions. The decisions were now based on an assessment of soil fertility and animal production target levels, together with accurate assessment of pasture production and animal requirements, rather than on past experiences and normal district practices. The increased adoption of the productive pasture technology (practice change) was directly related to a change in attitude to decision making. This change in attitude or beliefs among Grassland’s Productivity Program participants was a result of the action learning experiences that disposed or modified existing beliefs, while integrating the productive pasture technology in a contextualised manner. The paired-paddock approach to learning enabled each participant to witness the productive pasture technology perform on their own farm, in direct comparison with the existing management approach. The participants developed increased confidence in their ability to manage this technology from group-learning experiences, which occurred at regular group meetings.

publication date

  • 1998