This project aimed to encourage dairy farmers to take on a business culture – including improving strategic decision-making concerning pasture management. The evaluation was undertaken in 2008 near the completion of the project and used: surveys of participants and non-participants in the program; interviews with informed persons; a ‘structured debrief’ of project insiders; case studies and secondary data. The evaluation indicated a high level of impact on at least 20% of the industry, a benefit cost exceeding 10/1 and suggested that non participation was related more to an issue of perceived immediate relevance to specific activities and difficulty in getting away from their enterprise rather than a reluctance to learn.
Jeff and his team at Coutts J&R has provided leadership in the development of intervention and evaluation approaches across Australia and beyond in rural and regional development, Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) and education. The projects listed in this section are examples of those undertaken in recent years – ranging from individual project evaluations to working with national funding bodies to developing monitoring and evaluation frameworks to guide investments and reporting.Read More
Displaying All 97 Projects
This project was commissioned by Burdekin Dry Tropics Natural Resource Management Regional Body in North Queensland and is a comprehensive study of the use of on-ground incentives/market based instruments (MBIs) to bring about improvements in natural resource management. The study looked at attitudes, processes and impacts and included a survey of: landholders who tool up incentives; those that applied and failed to receive funds; those that chose not to apply; and those who were unaware of the availability. It also interviewed informed persons around Australia with extensive experience in such programs as well as reviewing available reports and studies on the use of incentives/MBIs in other areas. A key outcome is a table drawing together the lessons learnt at each stage of the process providing guidelines to those planning or administering such programs. You can see the report at http://www.bdtnrm.org.au/projects/lsaincentives.html
In association with Gordon Stone under the QualDATA banner, Jeff Coutts was involved with the monitoring and evaluation processes for the New Opportunities for Tropical Agriculture project (NOTPA) for the Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia. This project investigated the potential to develop new agricultural businesses in the State’s pastoral regions.
Chris Ham, the project manager, noted that “There is also interest in new and innovative production techniques, developing the use of native plants and accessing assistance to plan, prepare and manage legal and administrative process in setting up an agricultural business”.
Coutts J&R and QualDATA developed a M&E process which includes the use of ‘pro-forma’s to systematically collect data as events happen.
This evaluation at the end of 2008 followed on from a mid-term review in 2007. It used a Bennett’s Hierarchy framework to look at the impacts of the project funded by AWI and undertaken by the Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research (TIAR). This was an extension based project faced with a state wool industry severely affected by drought. It used grower groups, workshops, field days and a newsletter to provide support, information and foster changes in management. The evaluation used a mixture of surveys – growers involved in groups, those that participated in some events, and those who only received the newsletter; interviews with informed persons; participant observation at project events; and analysis of secondary data. The evaluation reported a high level of practice change as a direct result of project activities – in relation to the comparative level of involvement in the project.
The evaluation was undertaken in 2008 to see how well it met its objectives and also ‘how has exposure to the information and activities of the initiative impacted on people’s awareness and (re)thinking about Natural Resource Management issues relevant to the cotton industry and its catchment communities.’ The project aimed to establish collaborative partnerships between Regional NRM bodies and the Australian Cotton industry; facilitate the delivery of NRM outcomes; develop and promote resources for capacity building; and increase the adoption of good NRM practice. The evaluation used: secondary data; and informed persons survey; case studies; and collated participant feedback from project activities. Among other conclusions, the evaluation found that there was good evidence that the project stimulated interest and fuelled the conversation about how NRM management is best incorporated into farm and catchment management.
In partnership with Gordon Stone, Coutts J&R undertook a review of the report based products from the final ‘harvest’ year of the National Dryland Salinity Program. The evaluation looked at the process of developing the products as well as the product themselves. It involved telephone surveys with people who have sought copies of the products and those who were directly involved in their development or testing. A broader web survey was also undertaken.
Coutts J&R were part of a 2 year project looking at the Cultural Imprint of the sugar industry in the Herbert Region of North Queensland. The logic is that by better understanding the patterns and relationships, strategies can be put into place to assist people to effectively work together for a better future. To date Jeff Coutts has worked with other social researchers Ian Plowman (DPI&F Qld) and Neels Botha (Ag Research New Zealand) and a project steering comittee to look historical and other factors shaping the ‘imprint’. The results were presented back to the industry for reaction/discussion. A further meeting has been held with a cross section of people who will help facilitate a larger industry workshop to look at how to build on the positives and address barriers to working better together.
The 8×5 Wool Profit Program was an extension program to assist Tasmanian wool producers to achieve an 8% annual return on assets managed within 5 years through access to benchmarking, best practice information, group improvement initiatives and a State-wide wool profit awards program.
Coutts J&R’s evaluation of the 8×5 WPP was a mid term review of Phase 2 of the Tasmanian project. Phase 1 focused on raising awareness understanding and skills to facilitate practice change in the Tasmanian sheep and wool industry through workshops, field days and information dissemination.
Phase 2 maintained many of the processes of Phase 1 but added the establishment of small groups with producer clients and importantly used the Continuous Improvement and Innovation (CI&I) model to take producers through a process of needs identification, planning and action and review.
The Burdekin, Herbert and Plane Creek CPIs were initiated by a 2001 study by McKinsey and Associates on developing the future of the Sugar Industry in the CSR mill regions. One of the strong recommendations from that study was an extension initiative based around geographically-centred grower groups using adult learning principles. Several other sugar producing regions; including Mackay, Mulgrave, and Bundaberg, have used similar principles in their own ‘productivity initiatives’.
This review was about looking forward to the next five years and developing strategies to take the initiative into the future.
This project was based in NZ AgResearch Social Research Group (Dr Neels Botha and Hein Roth) and explored the role of consultants in the New Zealand Research, Development and Extension System – particularly as it affects the adoption of improved environmental management practices.
It was based on an informed persons survey, case studies in the horticultural and pastoral industries and a literature review. The project sought to highlight where consultants can be (even) more integrated into the knowledge and adoption system. This phase of the project culminated in a series of seminars in New Zealand in June 2006.