Training extension officers in the Queensland sugar cane industry
Behaviour Innovation specialises in the design, delivery, and evaluation of behavioural skills training workshops. These workshops draw upon behavioural science theories and research to create an evidence-based toolkit of strategies to improve people’s understanding of their own behaviour and the behaviour of others.
Alongside Project Cane Changer, Behaviour Innovation implements training programs across the Wet Tropics of the QLD sugar cane industry to increase the adoption of sustainable farming practices. These workshops target extension officers, a group of people who provide agronomic information and guidance face to face with growers and have a large influence over whether growers sustain change in their farming practices. By designing behavioural skills workshops to modify aspects of extension officers’ practices, growers, in turn, are positively predisposed to adopt more innovative farming systems. Indeed, research in other psychological spheres has shown the effectiveness of targeting ‘workforces’ to bring about change in a target population.
The two major training projects Behaviour Innovation has implemented are Cane to Creek and Project Uplift.
Project Uplift is an initiative driven by MSF Sugar that aims to increase the adoption of new farming systems within the sugar cane industry. The initiative involves working with grower groups that are provided with economic assistance and agronomic advice to bring about significant change to each grower's farming system.
MSF engaged Behaviour Innovation to develop a training program that applies behavioural science to enhance the outcomes of Project Uplift. A primary goal of BI’s involvement was to enhance the capacity of the Project Uplift agronomy team to work effectively with growers to affect change. This involved the design, delivery, and evaluation of a training workshop which focused on providing insight into grower psychology and enhancing project engagement through a suite of behavioural strategies targeting the on-the-ground skillset of extension officers.
Cane to Creek
The primary goal of the Cane to Creek program, hosted by Sugar Research Australia (SRA), is to increase grower adoption of farming practices that improve water quality outcomes for the Great Barrier Reef. Behaviour Innovation was engaged by SRA to design and deliver a set of psycho-educational workshops to enhance the practices of extension officers.
The first workshop focused on the underpinning psychology of grower adoption, packaging key learnings into a behavioural toolkit for extension officers to utilise when in the field with growers. The second workshop (in development) targets extension officer leaders to enhance the coordination and delivery of extension services across the districts and improve the skillset and capabilities of high functioning extension teams.
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