Ag Policy Connection, Ep. 11 — The future of ag extension

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The term “agricultural extension” generally refers to the process of applying new research and knowledge to help farmers improve farming methods and techniques.

While this concept has existed for thousands of years, the word “extension” itself dates back to the 1860s in England when universities made an attempt to extend practical information through lectures outside of the university.

The way farmers receive this new information and technical know-how has continued to evolve, often as a result of new communication tools becoming common. Field days and in-person meetings remain important places for picking up new information, but smartphones, podcasts, Zoom calls, and YouTube have also become critical tools for both farmers and people working in extension over the past 10 to 20 years. Looking ahead, early adopters are experimenting with artificial intelligence platforms similar to ChatGPT that can provide relevant and specific information.

In addition to shifting communication strategies, there’s also plenty to discuss on the topic of funding, as we discuss the future of agricultural extension on this new episode of the Ag Policy Connection podcast.

Our expert panel:

Ataharul Chowdhury, Associate Professor in Capacity Development and Extension at the University of Guelph, and president of the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education;
Joy Agnew, Vice President, Research at Olds College; and
Jake Leguee, farmer in southeast Saskatchewan and director with the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission.

The discussion includes the following questions and topics:

– how is extension changing?
– do farmers have the tools they need?
– who should fund extension and what’s the role of government?
– successful examples of extension and knowledge transfer in Canada and around the world, and how this is measured
– barriers to effective extension
– what’s the role of generative AI and large language models in extension?
– bridging the communications gap between scientific research and farmers

Watch our discussion below, or find the episode in the RealAgriculture feed in any podcast app!

The Ag Policy Connection is brought to you by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute and RealAgriculture.

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