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The first objective of this study was to obtain baseline information so that farm evolution of dairy operations using MIG can be traced. This was accomplished by completing the survey. Reported data will be stored for possible future use.
Developing predictors of successful conversions to MIG, the second objective of the team, is more complex. Since everyone has different values, beliefs and experiences, we all define success differently. Often we think of measuring success financially, perhaps because it is easy to quantify. However, there are many other gauges. In general, success depends upon setting and attaining both business and personal goals. It could be said that all farmers who have achieved their goals (whether or not they have changed because of MIG) could be called successful. For example, some graziers had the goal of increasing the time they spend with their family. Those who, after adopting MIG, can now attend their son's or daughter's school activities consequently can be considered successful converters. Other objectives like income, personal and business growth and security can be addressed similarly. More specifically, predictors of successful conversion include:
Farm managers who had written goals and objectives appeared assured about the direction of their farm. By having written goals, graziers were able to check their progress periodically and share goals with the entire family. Written goals also served as a way to keep score.
The transition to MIG appeared to be easier for those who had done some research. One grazier remarked, "By talking to other graziers first about MIG, you can avoid making some of the same mistakes they've made." In general, graziers who planned ahead had less difficulty converting their farms than those who just went with the flow. Some graziers planned their entire farming system very thoroughly. They planned according to their land base quality and size, available labor resources, equipment, facilities and market outlets.
The ability to obtain and apply information
Some graziers were effective in identifying sources of information. Some graziers seemed especially perceptive in knowing what would and would not work on their farms. Many graziers indicated that applying new information to their farm was more difficult than obtaining the information.
Taking an experimental approach
It appeared that farmers who viewed grazing as an art as well as a science recognized the need for continual experimentation. These farmers were not attempting to copy how their neighbors grazed or how someone told them it should be done. Instead, they were combining experience with new ideas.
The third objective of the team was to prepare decision cases that teach principles of effective farm conversion. This survey was used to identify farms willing to cooperate in developing decision cases. The decision cases are being prepared separately.