Engaging with farmers and demonstrating water quality outcomes to create confidence in on-farm decision-making ("Project 25")

Aaron Davis

Because of long-term challenges in fundamentally changing the behaviour of farmers, water quality monitoring is increasingly shifting to collaborative-participatory models involving landholders, scientists and other stakeholders. Using recent Great Barrier Reef catchment experiences from NESP ‘Project 25’ as an example, we highlight several emerging themes and opportunities in using stakeholder co-design and emerging technologies to increase the accessibility and relevance of monitoring data to catchment landholders. These models specifically support decision-making and consequent practice change on the part of farmers, and also in the spatial identification of nutrient generation ‘hotspots’ in intensive agriculture catchments. The importance of investment in building trust, maintaining research practice and data transparency with stakeholders, and the critical role of informal learning and training are essential components to achieving impact-based research outcomes. Results from Project 25 demonstrate that collaborative efforts between researchers and non- academic stakeholders increases legitimacy, ownership and accountability of environmental sustainability challenges, as well as for the identification of future solutions.