Training Extension Officers in the Queensland Sugar Cane Industry
Behaviour Innovation specialises in the design, delivery and implementation of behavioural skills training workshops. These workshops draw upon behavioural science to create an evidence-based toolkit of strategies to improve people's understanding of their own psychology and communication skills with others.
Alongside Project Cane Changer, Behaviour Innovation implements training programs throughout Queensland’s Wet Tropics sugarcane industry to increase the adoption of sustainable farming practices. These workshops are run with extension officers – the main group of people providing information and guidance directly to growers. By enhancing extension officers’ communication skills and ability to understand the psychology of others, growers are positively predisposed to adopt more sustainable practices on-farm. This approach comes from a body of research showing the benefits of working with entire workforces, or ‘populations,’ rather than individuals.
So far, we’ve implemented two major training projects in Queensland’s Wet Tropics.
Project Uplift was developed by MSF Sugar to increase the adoption of innovative and sustainable farming systems in the sugarcane industry. Through Uplift, MSF Sugar offers agronomic advice and economic assistance to ensure growers can bring about significant changes to their farming system.
Behaviour Innovation was approached by MSF Sugar to design and implement a training program to improve the outcomes of Project Uplift. As behavioural scientists, we focused on ways to train Project Uplift extension officers to work more effectively with growers, subsequently increasing the adoption of innovative farming systems. Using findings from behavioural science and Project Cane Changer, we created workshops focused on understanding grower psychology, the science of positive communication, and provided behavioural strategies to enhance the on-the-ground skillset of extension officers.
Cane to Creek
The Cane to Creek program is hosted by Sugar Research Australia (SRA) and aims to increase growers’ adoption of sustainable farming practices which improve the water quality flowing to the Great Barrier Reef. We tailored our approach to extension officers, who have the most significant influence over growers’ adoption of farming practices, and designed workshops to enhance their skill set.
In our first workshop we focused on the underpinning psychology of grower adoption, packaging some key takeaway points into a behavioural toolkit for extension officers to use in the field. Our second workshop was tailored towards extension officer leaders with two main aims: streamlining the coordination and delivery of extension services throughout the districts, and improving the skillsets and capabilities of high-functioning extension teams.
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