Trialling a web-based spatial information management tool with land managers in Victoria, Australia

Roberts, Anna M. and Park, Geoff and Melland, Alice R. and Miller, Ian (2009) Trialling a web-based spatial information management tool with land managers in Victoria, Australia. Journal of Environmental Management , 91 (2). pp. 523-531. ISSN 0301-4797

Abstract

A prototype web-based spatial information management tool (called eFarmer) was tested for its useability and usefulness by 46 Land Managers and 5 extension staff in Victoria, Australia. Participants had a range of enterprises (dairy, beef/sheep grazing, cropping, lifestyle land use), property sizes and computer ownership and expertise. A follow up study was conducted with 12 dairy farmers, where features regarding assessment of nutrient losses from paddocks (Farm Nutrient Loss Index, FNLI) were added to eFarmer. Over 27,000 maps (including 11,000 with aerial photography) were accessed by Land Managers during a 5-month trial period. Despite limited training and support, 1350 people are registered users, and approximately 700 have actively used the tool. Reasons for the success include providing improved access to spatial information, enabling measurement of farm features and creation of farm maps, providing a basis for decision-making about farm inputs, support for better farm and landscape scale action planning and production and Land Managers being able to seek management advice from the extension staff who facilitated eFarmer testing programs. For dairy farmers in the FNLI trial, awareness of off-site impacts increased and most changed management practices. Provision of on-going training and support will be at least as important as further development of the tool itself. Web-based spatial information tools have potential to improve the awareness of Land Managers about their environmental impacts and influence their decision-making. Access to spatial information has potential to reduce information asymmetry between Land Managers, extension staff and catchment planners in a constructive way. It will also change the role of extension staff away from being an expert with answers, to a facilitator enabling learning. Results have applicability in countries where there is a high level of farm computer ownership, relevant spatial information is available in GIS format, where governments are happy to make spatial information available to the public and there is pressure for increased environmental awareness and improved decision making by Land Managers.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Crown Copyright © 2009. Permanent restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Agricultural, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2014 05:41
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2014 05:18
Uncontrolled Keywords: catchment; dairy farmer; decision making; environmental impact; environmental planning; GIS; land management; management practice; mapping method
Fields of Research : 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070104 Agricultural Spatial Analysis and Modelling
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070105 Agricultural Systems Analysis and Modelling
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070101 Agricultural Land Management
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970107 Expanding Knowledge in the Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2009.09.021
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/25776

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