Farmer-led partner farms

FarmIQ farms – an example of ‘Farmer-led partner farms’

FarmIQ is a company set up in 2010 to deliver a 7-year Primary Growth Partnership Programme (PGP) involving Silver Fern Farms, Landcorp Farming Ltd, Tru-Test and Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). FarmIQ aims to lift on-farm red meat production and meet the needs of consumers through a "pasture to plate" integrated value chain.

To achieve this aim the company has employed a ‘Farmer-led partner farms’ extension approach, including extension activities such as:

  • A couple of farmers having a chatEstablishing a network of 12 partner FarmIQ farms around the country, on which the farm team takes the lead in identifying farm system-level issues and opportunities they wish to address
  • Setting up a learning group at each partner farm, consisting of the farm team and selected rural professionals (scientists and advisors), so they can share and collaboratively develop knowledge
  • connecting farm teams with funding and specialist advice to support them in research projects as they trial new and innovative ways of lifting production through farm-scale experimentation leading to fit-for-purpose practices that match local farm systems, climates and markets
  • visits by teams between partner farms, so learnings are communicated and shared
  • sharing the results of research conducted on partner farms out to the wider farmer network through reports, newsletters, farm field days and conference presentations.

‘Farmer-led partner farms’ as an extension approach worked well in this situation because:

  • farmers were aware of the issues/opportunities already, so the approach could be demand-led
  • the issues being addressed were complex and required system-wide practice changes that have limited compatibility with existing farm practices
  • the practices being explored required intensive and robust data collection and analysis in farm system-level studies with support from scientists to fully evaluate the practices
  • there was a desire to make connections between other farming groups with the same interests, and bring consumer concerns back to producers.