Co-development with farmers, advisors and science

Minimising drench resistance – an example of ‘co-development with farmers, advisors and science’.

Farmers face challenges in achieving balance between two potentially conflicting goals – managing the impact of internal parasites, and minimising selection for drench resistance. In 2008, a four-year project was begun to design, implement and monitor parasite management plans that were specific to each of 20 farms across New Zealand where multiple resistance to drenches was already evident. By working as a team that included farmers, parasitologists, vets and farm management consultants, these plans were based on the latest research and applied the most current thinking around parasite management. The goal was to enable the farmer at each location to maintain productivity and profitability, while concurrently minimising selection pressure for drench resistance.

To achieve their aims, the project team used a ‘co-development with science and farmers’ extension approach, including extension activities such as:

  • Codeveloped farmer advisros and scienceOn-farm trials of specific parasite management plans across the 20 focus farms
  • Development of a series of training workshops for veterinarians around parasite management plans and monitoring techniques
  • Conference presentations and publication of results in a veterinary science journal
  • Articles in farming media to promote and explain the work they were doing, and encourage adoption of the practice of farmers working with vets to establish and monitor progress against farm parasite management plans.
  • Fact sheets and resources for farmers on principles of parasite management and drench usage.

‘Co-development with farmers, advisors and science’ as an extension approach worked well in this situation because:

  • maintaining flock productivity and profitability, while minimising drench resistance is a complex issue, that can only be addressed by a complex practice change
  • the intention was to test a collection of fit-for-purpose practices on companion farms to address this shared issue as well as to establish and monitor indicators of the level of farmer behaviour change that could be consistently achieved
  • farmers would not have had the capability to design, implement and monitor the parasite management plan without input from additional third parties – in this case scientists and their own vet provided knowledge, jointly developed test practices in trials with each farmer and the rural advisors, as well as supported collection and analysis of data that was needed to demonstrate the benefits of the practices used.