Criteria for a system level analysis of farm evaluation

Katrin Prager, Rachel Sarah Creaney, Altea Lorenzo-Arribas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Agricultural advisory services are meant to provide farmers with relevant knowledge and networks for innovation, as well as adjustments to policy and markets in agriculture. Despite substantial investment into these services, there has been little evaluation of their performance and impact, in particular at a system level. A system level analysis is especially challenging in countries with a diverse and fragmented advisory community such as the United Kingdom. This paper proposes criteria for assessing advisory services based on a conceptual framework for analysing characteristics of advisory services as a component of the wider Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System (AKIS). Using the example of the UK, we investigated characteristics pertaining to governance structures, capacity, management and advisory methods. Data were collected in an online survey of 80 agricultural advisory organisations. Findings showed that most criteria for functional advisory services were met: agricultural advisory organisations utilised diverse knowledge sources and cooperated to fill knowledge gaps; there was a stable workforce of advisors who received regular training; advisory organisations were flexible and adaptive; and all relevant advisory topics were covered. However, a number of client groups were not targeted by advisory organisations and some organisations used only a narrow range of advisory methods. The proposed criteria reflect a balance between a thorough assessment of a country’s advisory services and the typically limited time and budget available for regular evaluations. The criteria and associated proxy indicators should be fine-tuned to reflect the individual country’s situation, and quantitative survey data complemented by qualitative data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-98
JournalLand Use Policy
Early online date16 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • Advisory services
  • Extension
  • Agriculture
  • AKIS
  • Evaluation
  • United Kingdom


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