NPR – COACHING RESULTS IN IMPROVED PASTURE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
Flight, S., Turner, L. Jones, S. Irvine, L.
The Tasmanian dairy industry is predominantly pasture-based and pasture consumption is a key driver of dairy farm profitability. Due to this, Tasmanian dairy research, development and extension has a focus on increasing the amount of pasture grown and consumed by dairy cows. At an industry level, average pasture consumption has increased from 8.5 t DM/ha to 10.6 t DM/ha over the past 10 years. Coaching is one of the extension methods used in the Tasmanian dairy industry to develop farmer skills in grazing management. Pasture coaching involves the formation of groups of 4-6 farmers by an extension officer who takes on the role of coach for the group. A pasture coaching group meets 8-10 times over a 12 month period. An assessment of the impact of pasture coaching on grazing management skills was undertaken in 2016-17 through pre-coaching and post- coaching surveys along with one-on-one farmer interviews. Pasture coaching resulted in practice change with more people undertaking best management practices including calculating average pasture cover and cow requirements and determining leaf stage. Not only did more people implement some of these best management practices but there was also an increased frequency that these practices were undertaken throughout the course of the pasture coaching program.
Keywords: coaching, extension, farmer learning, pasture management, practice change