The impact of formal agricultural education on farm level innovation and management practices

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Abstract

Knowledge transfer in agriculture or what is conventionally known as agricultural extension is typically based on two activities: the delivery of education and the provision of advisory services. Formal agricultural education levels have steadily improved over time in Ireland and this growth in the human capital of the agricultural sector is a key aspect of the “smart” agenda set out in National Agricultural Development Strategies. In this paper we focus on the impact of one aspect of agricultural knowledge transfer process by considering the relationship between participation in formal agricultural education, farm level income outcomes and the pathways by which these outcomes are realised via innovation and management practice. In doing so, we contribute to the branch of the wider technology transfer literature concerned with identifying the impact of knowledge transfer activities and also understanding the role of competence building within knowledge transfer processes. Formal agricultural education can impact private returns in terms of improved technical and allocative efficiency. In most Irish agricultural sectors, we find a positive return to agricultural education and in particular a positive relationship in relation to technical efficiency in terms of improved yields. The result is, however, weak in the tillage sector. Evidence of improved allocative efficiency is in general weak, except for the commercial dairy sector. We do, however, find that earlier adopters of innovations or best management practice are more likely to have formal agricultural education. This may be due to reduced risk aversion, higher skills and better decision making. However, as mature technologies and management practices become mainstream across many farmer types, this relationship does not hold.

Keywords

Agricultural education Innovation Knowledge transfer Returns to education 

JEL Classification

I21 O30 I26 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National University of Ireland, Galway and Rural Economy and Development ProgrammeTeagascAthenryIreland
  2. 2.Evaluation UnitTeagascAthenryIreland

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