Independent Report Finds Northland’s Extension 350 Farming Programme a Success
An independent report has found agri-extension and development programme Extension 350 (E350)
has been a success in helping Northland farmers reach their goals.
The farmer-learning-from-farmer programme was launched in 2016 with the aim of helping the
region’s farmers to achieve their goals and objectives including profitability, environmental
sustainability, and wellbeing.
An independent evaluation by Scarlatti Limited has found the programme’s investment of $4.1
million generated financial returns of $48.6 million against measurable financial outcomes. The
result reflects an almost 12:1 return on investment, with environmental and wellbeing outcomes
additional to this figure.
Extension 350 Chair, Ken Hames, says the report highlights the positive traction the programme has
created with famers across the region.
“The financial success measures outlined within the report reflect the tangible changes that the E350
programme have helped farmers achieve, including improving on-farm efficiencies, infrastructure,
and succession planning. These financial outcomes are only one element of the overall programme’s
success, with the sustainable and long-term effects, particularly those around farmer well-being and
environmental sustainability, yet to be realised.”
E350 final project report has been published as the five-and-a-half-year programme winds up.
During this period, it has engaged with 384 farmers across Northland, exceeding the original target
Funded by Northland Inc, Ministry for Primary Industries, DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand,
Northland Regional Council and target farmers, the programme focussed on building skills and a
network of support to help Northland farmers reach individual goals and continue to adapt to the
changing farming landscape.
One of the farmers involved, Lachie Maclean, says the on-farm changes which E350 supported him
to make have had great benefits to his wellbeing.
“When I started E350 I wasn’t quite sure what I was taking on, but I was keen to have the advice. I’ve learnt a lot on the way and have had a lot of experiences…from where I started in E350, I’ve ended up with a sharemilker on the farm and a new dairy shed, it’s made it big enough for me to actually take a step back… [E350] was invaluable, I can’t sing highly enough of it,” he says.
Northland Inc Project Lead, Luke Beehre, says the collaboration between agencies and individuals has been crucial to the programme’s success.
“E350 created unique cross-sector sharing of knowledge and processes in working towards a
common goal. The collaboration that was demonstrated across sectors in Northland has been
fundamental to the successful outcomes of the programme, and ultimately providing better
outcomes for our region’s farmers,” says Beehre.
In addition to the financial measures, environmental and wellbeing outcomes were also assessed.
Findings showed that all target farms completed Farm Environment Plans (FEP), with 100 per cent of
farms involved reporting progress towards completing FEP actions.
Farmers across the programme reported improvements in their social and business networks, and
59 per cent reported an increase in discussing wellbeing around their kitchen table, and in social
circles. Of the outcomes which farmers felt they gained the most from through the programme,
‘connection to others’ and ‘wellbeing’ were listed in the top five results.
“At the heart of the Extension 350 programme was the opportunity for farmers to learn from
farmers through continued, supportive relationships that foster trust and respect and offer both
practical and theoretical knowledge. We’ve consistently heard of improved wellbeing outcomes for
farmers as a result of being involved, with some describing their experience as ‘life changing’,” says
Northland Inc General Manager of Investment and Infrastructure, Vaughan Cooper, says it is the
tangible change created through the programme which makes Extension 350 such a success.
“Having delivered the Extension 350 project since its inception, Northland Inc has seen first-hand the
journey of change which participants have been on. The Scarlatti report validates the change which
we have seen over the past five-and-a-half years, and the value which Extension 350 has bought to
the Taitokerau Northland farming community.”
“With the pastoral sector and associated manufacturing accounting for 38 per cent of Northland
exports in 2021, Extension 350 has created ripple effects which will continue to impact not only the
Northland farming community, but the regional economy as a whole. The continuation of projects
such as E350 to support the pastoral sector will be important and will create positive economic
benefits for the region,” he says.
The Scarlatti Limited Independent Report forms the basis of the Extension 350 Final Report, available
on the Northland Inc website, along with on-farm case studies of the programme's success.
View the full report and the summary report at:
For further information, please contact:
M: 021 1777 110