Innovation adoption at the farm level. Who decides?

Advancements in global technology have inspired countless innovations in the agricultural sector, protecting the environment and improving the quality of human life. This upward trajectory is expected to continue with consumers’ increased demand for sustainable agricultural products and the pursuit of cost-reduction by farmers. Markets, industry, and governments, all contribute to the development, dissemination and adoption of these technologies. 

Policymakers have focused primarily on farmers while other potential actors in the agro-food value chain have been overlooked. Therefore, CREDA attempted to identify and analyse other actors in the adoption process through a survey under the EU Horizon 2020 NOVATERRA project. The survey was conducted among 16 key stakeholders (farm managers, directors, farmers, researchers and agricultural engineers, among others) in France, Greece, Portugal and Spain. The purpose was to understand the processes and actors leading innovation adoption in Olive and Viticulture. The questions asked include:

  1. Who is responsible for selecting new plant protection treatments at the farm level? 
  2. Who decides on whether an innovation or a new treatment is adopted at farm level? 
  3. What roles do farmers play in the adoption process at the farm level? 
  4. What key factors determine the decision to adopt innovations or otherwise?

The data shows that several other actors may be involved in the decision-making process, including farm managers, technical advisors, commercial companies, regulators and specialised governmental institutions, among others. Several other factors also impact the final decision to adopt new technologies such as the size of the farm, the experience of the farmer and the association under which the farm is operating, regulatory requirements, pressure from commercial companies, evidence from trials, sustainability, and conformity to society and traditions. For instance, for small-size farms, the farmers usually decide, whereas for larger farms managers, technicians and directors also have an input and farmers solely facilitate innovation trials.