The Wisdom of Farm Advisors: Knowing Who and Knowing Why

25 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2017

Date Written: January 10, 2017


One of the most profound changes to the delivery of agricultural extension services over recent decades in Australia, and in many other places in the world, has been the decline in public extension and increased reliance on private farm advisors. While the importance of advisory support in facilitating adoption of agricultural innovations has been clearly demonstrated in many studies, few studies have explored the farmer-advisor relationship from the perspective of knowledge exchange. This paper uses the role that farm advisors play in facilitating farmers’ adoption of complex agricultural technologies as a case example for understanding the different types of knowledge involved. Face-to-face interviews were carried out with thirty farmers from across the South Eastern Australian broad-acre cropping regions who used advisors.

We developed a model combining the knowledge components and the DIKW hierarchy models to make the value that agronomists provide to farmers in the form of wisdom more understandable. The proposed model is a way to understand how the different levels of the hierarchy are useful, how those interacting with the different levels of the hierarchy can benefit from others, or be of benefit to others. It brings the DIKW hierarchy to life, adding meaning and usefulness to the conceptualisation.

We found that farmer see an advisor’s role in facilitating the adoption of complex agricultural technologies, not so much to learn all about the technology themselves but rather to use their know-why and know-who (both are components of wisdom) to help farmers gain know-how for themselves.

Keywords: Knowledge, Agronomist, Agricultural advisor, VRT, Extension, Wisdom, Know-how

Suggested Citation

Kuehne, Geoff and LLewellyn, Rick, The Wisdom of Farm Advisors: Knowing Who and Knowing Why (January 10, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Geoff Kuehne (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053

Rick LLewellyn

Independent ( email )

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