Criteria for a system level evaluation of farm advisory services

Katrin Prager*, Rachel Creaney, Altea Lorenzo-Arribas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 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. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-98
Number of pages13
JournalLand Use Policy
Early online date16 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding for this study was provided as part of PROAKIS (, a European Commission 7th Framework Programme project, Grant agreement no: 311994 (Coordination & Support Action). Time for writing the paper was supported by the Scottish Government RESAS Strategic Research Programme 2011–2016. We would like to thank all people who took the time to participate in the survey.


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


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