Structural aspects of on-farm demonstrations: Key considerations in the planning and design process

Eleni Pappa, Alex Koutsouris, Julie Ingram, Lies Debruyne, Hanne Cooreman, Fleur Marchand


Research on the adoption and diffusion of innovations has consistently confirmed that one of farmers’ most commonly cited sources of information and ideas is other farmers. Demonstrations concern the practical exhibition (and explanation) of how something works and have for long been one of the most important extension techniques. On-farm demonstrations facilitate an effective learning situation for farmers to “See the crops themselves”, “interact with the scientists and extension workers on the field”, and “get doubts clarified themselves”. In the literature concerning on-farm demonstrations, a wide range of structural characteristics are described. These differ according to the actors/networks involved and their roles, the audience/ attendees, the network structure and its characteristics, resources, finances and incentives, and characteristics related to the farm (geographic location, accessibility, etc.). The current paper will elaborate on such structural characteristics and will thus contribute to building a provisional model of the linkages between rationale (goals, objectives, topics), structural factors, functions and results (output, outcomes and impact).


On-farm demonstrations, structural characteristics, actors, networks, resources, event characteristics.


Bailey, A. P., Garforth, C. J., Angell, B., Scott, T., Beedell, J., Beechener, S., & Rana, R. B. (2006). Helping farmers adjust to policy reforms through demonstration farms: lessons from a project in England. Journal of Farm Management, 12(10), 613-625.

Bellon, M.R. (2001). Participatory research methods for technology evaluation: A manual for scientists working with farmers. CIMMYT. Retrieved from

BMEL - Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. (2016). Demonstration Farms for Integrated Pest Management. Retrieved from

Braga, R., Labrada, R., Fornasari, L., & Fratini, N. (2001). Manual for training of extension workers and farmers: alternatives to methyl bromide for soil fumigation. FAO.

Breetz, H. L., Fisher-Vanden, K., Jacobs, H., & Schary, C. (2005). Trust and communication: mechanisms for increasing farmers’ participation in water quality trading. Land Economics, 81(2), 170-190.

CCCA (2013). Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Demonstration Activities. Phnom Penh: Cambodia Climate Change Allience (CCCA) & UNEP-DHI Centre.

Creaney, R., McKee, A., & Prager, K. (2014). Designing, implementing and maintaining (rural) innovation networks to enhance farmers’ ability to innovate in cooperation with other rural actors. Monitor Farms in Scotland, UK. Report for AKIS on the ground: focusing knowledge flow systems (WP4) of the PRO AKIS project. Retrieved from

Cunningham, C. J., & Simeral, K. (1977). Do Test Demonstration Farms Work?. Journal of Extension, 15, 18-24.

DAE (1999). Agricultural Extension Manual: Chapter 10 (Group extension approach). Retrieved from

Ferranto, S., Huntsinger, L., Stewart, W., Getz, C., Nakamura, G., & Kelly, M. (2012). Consider the source: the impact of media and authority in outreach to private forest and rangeland owners. Journal of Environmental Management, 97, 131-140.

Fischer, A., & Vasseur, L. (2002). Smallholder perceptions of agroforestry projects in Panama. Agroforestry systems, 54(2), 103-113.

Fisk III, P., Arch, M., & Arch, M. L. (1989). A Sustainable Farm Demonstration for the State of Texas. American Solar Energy Society. Retrieved from

Franz, N. K., Piercy, F.P., Donaldson, J., Deelo, J., Westbrook. J., & Richard, R. (2009). How Farmers Learn: Improving Sustainable Agricultural Education. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Virginia. Retrieved from

Franzel, S., Degrande, A., Kiptot, E., Kirui, J., Kugonza, J., Preissing, J., & Simpson, B. (2015). Farmer-to-Farmer Extension. Note 7, GFRAS Good Practice Notes for Extension and Advisory Services. Lindau, Switzerland.

Gibbons, M.J., & Schroeder, R. (1983). Agricultural Extension. Washington D.C.: Peace Corps Information Collection & Exchange M0018. Retrieved from;view=1up;seq=5

Gros, V. & Oldeweme, J. (2013). Working for Sustainable Farming in Europe - The Farm Network, a BASF partnership. Retrieved from

Hamunen, K., Appelstrand, M., Hujala, T., Kurttila, M., Sriskandarajah, N., Vilkriste, L., & Tikkanen, J. (2015). Defining Peer-to-peer Learning–from an Old ‘Art of Practice’to a New Mode of Forest Owner Extension?. The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, 21(4), 293-307.

Hancock, J. (1992). Extension education: Conducting effective agricultural demonstrations. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Publication ID-111.

Havlin, J. L., Shroyer, J. P., & Devlin, D. L. (1990). Establishing on-farm demonstration and research plots. Cooperative Extension Service, Kansas State University. Kansas. Retrieved from

Hellin, J., & Dixon, J. (2008). Operationalising participatory research and farmer-to-farmer extension: the Kamayoq in Peru. Development in Practice, 18(4-5), 627-632.

Ingram, J., Chiswell, H., Mills, J., Marchand, F., Debruyne, L., Cooreman, H., & Koutsouris A. (2018). Improving demonstration approaches in the face of new demands: theoretical viewpoints on learning. Presentation at Farming systems: facing uncertainties and enhancing opportunities (13th European Farming Systems Symposium), MAICH, Chania, 1-5 July 2018.

Janvry, A.D., Sadoule E., & Manaswini R.A. (2016). Adjusting extension models to the way farmers learn. Learning for adopting: Technology adoption in developing country agriculture. University of California at Berkeley and FERDI. Retrieved from

Kemp, D. R., & Michalk, D. L. (2011). Development of sustainable livestock systems on grasslands in north-western China. In International Grassland Congress (2008: Hohhot, China); International Rangeland Conference (2008: Hohhot, China). Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Kania, J., & Kielbasa, B. (2015). Demonstration farms for transfer of knowledge-case study from Poland. Roczniki Naukowe Stowarzyszenia Ekonomistów Rolnictwa i Agrobiznesu, 17(5).

Kania, J., Vinohradnik, K., & Tworzyk, A. (2014). AKIS and advisory services in Poland. Report for AKIS Inventory (WP-3) of the PRO AKIS project. Retrieved from www. proakis. eu/publicationsandevents/pubs.

Kilpatrick, S., & Johns, S. (2003). How farmers learn: different approaches to change. The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, 9(4), 151-164.

Kiptot, E., Franzel, S., Hebinck, P., & Richards, P. (2006). Sharing seed and knowledge: farmer to farmer dissemination of agroforestry technologies in western Kenya. Agroforestry systems, 68(3), 167-179.

Kittrell, B. U. (1974). Result demonstration technique—history, philosophy, and contemporary nature1. Education, 3, 91. Retrieved from

Knapp, B. (1916). Education through farm demonstration. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 67(1), 224-240.

Tripathi, B. R., Psychas, P. J., Atta-Krah, K., & Sanginga, N. (1992). The AFNETA Alley Farming Training Manual: Source book for alley farming research (Vol. 2). IITA. Retrieved from

Kuipers, A., Klopčič, M., & Thomas, C. (Eds.). (2005). Knowledge Transfer in Cattle Husbandry: New Management Practices, Attitudes and Adaptation (No. 117). Wageningen Academic Pub.

Kumar Shrestha, S. (2014). Decentralizing the Farmer-to-Farmer extension approach to the local level. World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, 11(1), 66-77.

Lauer, J. (2009). Planning and conducting meaningful On-Farm demonstrations and research. 2009 Wisconsin Crop Production Association Distinguished Service Awards, 55. Retrieved from

Leeuwis, C. (2004). Communication for Rural innovation: Rethinking Agricultural Extension Blackwell Science Inc.

Maatoug, M.A.A. (1981). Extension demonstration farms as a teaching method in the Sudan. (Master Thesis). The University of Arizona. Arizona. Retrieved from

Madureira, L., Koehnen, T., Pires, M., Ferreira, D., Cristóvão, A., & Baptista, A. (2015). The capability of extension and advisory services to bridge research and knowledge needs of farmers. Report for the PRO AKIS project. Retrieved from

Miller, R. L., & Cox, L. (2006). Technology transfer preferences of researchers and producers in sustainable agriculture. Journal of Extension, 44(3), 1-6. Retrieved from

Mitchell, J.P. (2016). Formation of California Farm Demonstration Evaluation Network. University of California. Retrieved from

Morris, C., & Winter, M. (1999). Integrated farming systems: the third way for European agriculture?. Land Use Policy, 16(4), 193-205.

Mutsaers, H. J. W. (1997). A field guide for on-farm experimentation. IITA/CTA/ISNAR. Retrieved from

Myers, S. (1978). The Demonstration project as a procedure for accelerating the application of new technology. Institute of Public Administration: Washington, DC, USA.

Pangborn, M. C., Woodford, K. B., & Nuthall, P. L. (2011). Demonstration farms and technology transfer: the case of the Lincoln University dairy farm1. International Journal of Agricultural Management, 1(1), 29-33.

Oakley, P., & Garforth, C. (1985). Guide to extension training (No. 11). Food & Agriculture Org.

Okiror, J.F. (2016). Outscaling climate-smart agriculture practices through farmer-driven demonstration plots. International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. Retrieved from

PACC (2015). Demonstration Guide: Building resilience to climate change in lowland farming communities in Fiji (PACC Technical Report No. 17). Apia, Samoa.

Penn State Extension (2017). Demonstration Trials. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved from

Padel, S., Lampkin, N., & Foster, C. (1999). Influence of policy support on the development of organic farming in the European Union. International planning studies, 4(3), 303-315.

Qamar, M.K. (2013). Major institutions providing extension/advisory services - Public Institutions: Cameroon. GFRAS. Online resource:

Rzewnicki, P. (1991). Farmers' perceptions of experiment station research, demonstrations, and on-farm research in agronomy. Journal of Agronomic Education, 20, 31-36.

Rogers, E.M. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations. (5th edition). New York: Free Press.

Rogers, E.M., & Leuthold, F.O. (1962). Demonstrators and the diffusion of fertilizer practices. Research Bulletin No. 908. Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station, Wooster, Ohio.

Sarantakos, S. (2005). Social Research (3rd Edition). Basingstoke: Palgrave McMillan.

Saunders, B., Sim, J., Kingstone, T., Baker, S., Waterfield, J., Bartlam, B., & Jinks, C. (2018). Saturation in qualitative research: exploring its conceptualization and operationalization. Quality & Quantity, 52(4), 1893-1907.

Schneider, F., Fry, P., Ledermann, T., & Rist, S. (2009). Social learning processes in Swiss soil protection—the ‘from farmer-to farmer’project. Human ecology, 37(4), 475-489.

Kumar Shrestha, S. (2014). Decentralizing the Farmer-to-Farmer extension approach to the local level. World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, 11(1), 66-77.

Smallshire, D., Robertson, P., & Thompson, P. (2004). Policy into practice: the development and delivery of agri‐environment schemes and supporting advice in England. Ibis, 146, 250-258.

Stammen, K.M. (2016). Demonstration Farms featured nationally. Ohio Farm Bureau. Retrieved from

Syngenta (2016). The Farms in the Interra® Farm Network. Retrieved from

USDA/NRCS - Natural Resources Conservation Service. (2013). FRD01 – On Farm Research and Demonstration. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from

USDA/NRCS - Natural Resources Conservation Service. (2016). The Lower Fox Demonstration Farms Network. University of Wisconsin – Extension. Retrieved from

Warren, J., Taylor, R., & Edwards, J.S. (2017). Types of On-Farm Demonstrations. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Fact Sheets. Retrieved from

Warner, K. (2007). Agroecology in action: Extending alternative agriculture through social networks. MIT Press.

ZLTO (2017). – Personal communication.

Full Text: PDF XPS


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Eleni Pappa, Alex Koutsouris, Julie Ingram, Lies Debruyne, Hanne Cooreman, Fleur Marchand

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.