On-farm demonstrations: consideration factors for their success and viability as an extension teaching tool

  • JG Richardson


Demonstrations of new or innovative practices carried out on actual farms have long been a key hallmark of program delivery and teaching in extension work. Such demonstrations led to the founding of the extension system in the United States about a century ago. These onfarm demonstrations gained the confidence of farmers who toured the farms, and has led to successful growth and development of the US extension system. Such farm based demonstrations are being used extensively in extension work in other countries as a means of showing and telling farmers exactly what a new or innovative practice is and showing how it will fit under local conditions. Soil types, fertility levels, climatic conditions such as frequency, amounts and periods of rainfall, availability of inputs or their applications, knowledge levels of the farmers and extension workers, available infrastructure and many other factors all come into play when on-farm demonstrations are considered as a program delivery method.

Field demonstrations, aptly named on-farm demonstrations, developed under local farm conditions, require a significant amount of time for planning and implementing. The information gained from the demonstration must be adequately communicated to farmers and others regarding the viability of a practice, which also requires considerable time in planning and implementing the teaching process. Yet, minimal emphasis appears to have been placed in the literature on guidance for actual planning and implementing such demonstrations. With additional instructional information, extension workers who are highly trained or those who are less well educated may use such information to guide the process from initial planning to implementation and use of the demonstration for viable educational purposes.

This study represents the collective thoughts of seasoned and successful extension workers in North Carolina and in Trinidad who participated in a modified Delphi study. The study sought to identify the many factors to consider in using on-farm demonstrations as a key component of an extension educational program. This study resulted in the development of both the Advantages and Disadvantages associated with on-farm demonstrations located on private farms.

South African Journal of Agricultural Extension Vol.32 2003: 114-124

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eISSN: 2413-3221
print ISSN: 0301-603X