A-8/19 The failure of early demonstration agriculture on 19th Century model/pattern farms: lessons for contemporary demonstration

Purpose: Demonstration farming has been an important part of agricultural extension since the first decades of the twentieth century. While Seaman Knapp is often credited with developing demonstration farming, his son acknowledged that the concept has much earlier origins in the nineteenth century development of model/pattern farms. However, little is known of these early origins or why early demonstration agriculture failed. This paper addresses this gap. Design/methodology/approach: The methodology involves analysis of out of copy-right historical journal articles, letters, pamphlets, and books recently made available by online services such as Google Books. Findings: The study details how the concept of demonstration farming was developed by agricultural societies of the eighteenth century but was not implemented until the early nineteenth century with the advent of model/pattern farms. Demonstration activities were run by a variety of different types of private and public farm organisations who sought to improve agriculture through emulation. Enthusiasm for model farms died out by the end of the nineteenth century but the failure of model farm demonstration leaves us with lessons for demonstration farming today. Theoretical implications: The study provides new knowledge on the conceptual and historical development of demonstration farming and why it failed to influence change. Practical implications: The study identifies factors that might contribute to the failure of demonstration activities. Originality/value: This is the first study to explore in detail demonstration farming on nineteenth century model farms and, methodologically, outlines how free on-line digitised literature can be used to investigate early agricultural education activities. Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, https://doi.org/10.1080/1389224X.2019.1674168

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