Risk management strategies and decision support tools for dryland farmers in southwest Queensland, Australia

Nguyen, N. C. (2007). Risk management strategies and decision support tools for dryland farmers in southwest Queensland, Australia PhD Thesis, School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Nguyen, N. C.
Thesis Title Risk management strategies and decision support tools for dryland farmers in southwest Queensland, Australia
School, Centre or Institute School of Natural and Rural Systems Management
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2007-07-25
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Malcolm Wegener
Iean Russell
Total pages 255
Collection year 2007
Language eng
Subjects L
300200 Crop and Pasture Production
Abstract/Summary The aim of this study was to evaluate risk management strategies and decision support tools that might be useful to dryland farmers in southwest Queensland to improve their decision making. This topic was chosen because there has been little previous work done to examine the sources of risk faced by farmers in that area, the practical risk management strategies employed by these farmers, or their interests in and attitudes towards risk management. This study adopted an action-learning approach to present farmers with opportunities to use various tools that might help to manage the range of risks affecting their farm management. The study was designed to test farmers’ interests in existing tools, or the potential for developing new tools, to assist dryland farmers in southwest Queensland improve their risk management. The thesis is presented in three parts including an introduction to the study and an extensive review of the relevant literature on decision making and risk management (Part I), an overview of the area in southwest Queensland where this study was focused and the various research methods used in this study (Part II). Part III comprises four chapters reporting results and presents the conclusions from the study. The thesis also reviews the advantages and disadvantages mentioned in the literature about decision support systems (DSS) in Australian agriculture and examines some programming and simulation models that can be applied to risk management in agriculture. The research methods used in this study included a literature review, interviews, focus group discussions, an ‘expert’ survey, training workshops for farmers, and evaluation techniques. The observations and reflections from the preliminary inquiries identified soil moisture management and crop choice as the critical issues concerning dryland farmers in southwest Queensland when dealing with crop production risks. Those discussions suggested possibilities for developing a decision support tool to help farmers in the study area assess their planting options. In developing the options for a decision support tool for planting decisions, a series of workshops was conducted with farmers in the study area, while some observations of farmers who attended similar workshops in adjacent areas are also reported. These workshops provided the opportunity for participants to experience some existing risk management and decision support tools. They were also designed to collect inputs to develop an appropriate decision support tool for crop planting decisions. A ‘Key to dryland planting decisions’ for farmers in southwest Queensland was developed and the personal experiences and lessons that the author has learnt through the course of this research are reported. The thesis enhances the understanding of farmers’ attitudes to risk, contemporary risk management strategies, and decision supports tools used in agriculture. This research has contributed to knowledge in the following ways. It has presented a methodological framework for doing research of this type. This study has identified the different sources of risk faced by dryland farmers in southwest Queensland and the practical risk management strategies they employ. The research has introduced those farmers to some existing risk management and decision support tools. The research has contributed more specifically to improving their management decisions by developing a decision support tool that could help dryland farmers in southwest Queensland make better informed and more appropriate planting decisions in the very uncertain and risky conditions with which they have to cope.
Keyword Risk
decision support systems
action research
farming risks
risk management
farming systems
dryland farming
drought

 
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Created: Fri, 04 Apr 2008, 14:11:42 EST by Dr Nam Nguyen on behalf of School of Integrative Systems