The Role Of Farmer Education In South Australia

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:45 AM
Room: Booth 61
Oral Presentation
Simon FIELKE , Sustainable Ecosystems, CSIRO, Urrbrae, Australia
Douglas BARDSLEY , University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
There is a significant challenge involved with balancing food security at local and global levels whilst mitigating the environmental and social consequences of the historically productivist agri-food system, this work will address the importance of education in the South Australian agricultural sector as a tool to maximise beneficial outcomes.  The results of a blended mixed method research project, which involved farmers and governance stakeholders in South Australia, are presented as empirical evidence highlighting the positive roles education, in particular university education; have in regard to increasing sustainability.  Interviews with agricultural governance stakeholders emphasised the important role that education will play in building the adaptive capacity of farmers and having positive outcomes on the future development of the South Australian agricultural industry.  It was also found that higher levels of formal education contributed to farmers: having greater confidence in their respective communities; being more likely to prioritise their environmental stewardship roles; being less concerned about the risks posed by large agri-business corporations; feeling there was less need to re-regulate the agricultural industry or restrict imports; and, looking for more support from government to adapt to a changing climate.  Most importantly, however, was the dramatic reduction in farmer concerns with government support programs as education levels went from secondary or less, through to vocational qualifications, and finally university degrees.  These results suggest that further education provides farmers with the capacity to compete effectively in a liberalised economy.