Participatory research: making farmers our research partners
Addressing the needs of primary producers through publicly funded research and development programs has become a higher priority in this time of limited resources. Traditionally, we have relied on the research- extension- producer flow of information to influence research program development, or have we? Many would argue that most research is based on the intuition, 'gut-feelings' and available funding for those scientists involved. Commodity groups (canola, flax and pulse) have allocated check -off resources toward directed research goals, successfully addressing the issues identified as highest priority by their producer members. The Melfort Research Station has been asked to develop new and innovative ways of conducting its research programs which will increase the role played by producers and extension staff. Developing a collaborative role for primary producers, extension agrologists and research scientists in program planning, priority setting, fund raising, and technology transfer, requires a significant change in both activities and attitude by all parties. The development of regional specific Learning Centres is presented as a model for enabling increased participation by all parties in developing solutions to current problems. Understanding the impact of introduced new technology on whole-farm operation and economic viability is also presented as a critical component to development of effective research and development programs.
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