Published on October 10, 2013
Australian Journal of ExperimentalAgriculture, 1994,34,549-71 Constraints to the adoption of innovations in agricultural research and environmental management: a review L. J.~ u e r i n ~and T. F. Guerin BC A Innovation Assessment and Research,PO Box 462, World Trade Centre,Melbourne,Vic. 3005,Australia. Minenco Bioremediation Services,1Research Avenue, Bundoora,Vic. 3083, Australia. Author to whom reprint requests should be addressed. Summary. There are several constraints to the adoption of technologies and innovations by Australian farmers. Here an attempt has been made to define the major constraintsto adoption. These are identified as: the extent to which the farmer finds the new technology complex and difficult to comprehend; how readily observable the outcomes of an adoption are; its financial cost; the farmer's beliefs and opinions towards the technology; the farmer's level of motivation; the farmer's perception of the relevance of the new technology; and the farmer's attitudestowards risk and change. The classical adoption-diffusion model and subsequent modifications are discussed. In particular, issues relating to the participatory action research (PAR) approach are raised and discussed. In addition, methodologies in extension research are briefly discussed and the roles of extension personnel and agricultural scientists in the technology adoption process are examined. The adoption of innovations in natural resource management is discussed and the findings indicate that this is an area of agriculture in which extension practice and research will play an increasingly important role in the future. Recommendations for further research into adoption of technological innovations in resource management and agriculture are made. Introduction Agricultural practice in Australia has changed from the production (or volume) orientation of the early part of this century, through productivity- or efficiency- based agriculture of the 1960s,to the current philosophy of sustainability. Timely adoption of relevant technologies and innovations by the farming community has been critical for improving agricultural productivity in Australia (Campbell 1980) during each of these eras. Typically the important participants in this process have been federal and state governments and industry (Campbell 1980) and, more recently, research institutions (Steinke 1991). The problem of non- adoption is common around the world, and much research in this field has been carried out in developing countries, where the need for very basic agricultural technologies is great (Sethu-Rao and Bhaskaran 1978; Swindale 1979; Arcia 1980; DeKlerk 1980; Itharat 1980; Singh and Ray 1980; Siddaramaiah and Jalihal 1982; Bangura 1983; Jones 1986; Koons 1987; Jameel 1988; Lee 1988; Oakley 1988; Albrecht et al. 1989; Chambers et al. 1989; Fuglie 1989; Ojiambo 1989; Uehara 1989). Much research has also been conducted on non-adoption in Australia (e.g. Fallding 1957; Davidson and Martin 1965; Tully 1966; Davidson et al. 1967; Hawkins et al. 1974; Anderson 1979, 1981; Salmon I981; Anderson 1982; Bardsley 1982; Macadam and Bawden (1985); Vere and Muir 1986; Martin et al. 1988; Lees 1991;Barr and Cary 1992b; Campbell 1992). Various aspects of this research have been reviewed by Chamala (1987), Russell et al. (1989), McKenzie (1990), Sinden and King (1990), Anon. (1992), Campbell and Junor (1992), Cary (1992), Frank and Chamala (1992), Southwood (l992), and Vanclay (1992a, 1992b). This review further examines the various constraints limiting the adoption of agricultural technologies by farmers in Australia. Key findings of Australian researchers are evaluated, which draw upon work conducted in a range of agricultural enterprises. Aspects of this problem that have been researched in other countries are considered where deemed relevant to technology adoption in Australia. However, our conclusions are drawn primarily from Australian studies. We aim to identify the constraints to adoption that are relevant to Australian farmers, and to highlight areas for future research. In addition, this review defines and
L. J. Guerin and T. F. Guerin Table 1. Some classic examples of technological innovations in Australian agriculture (from Campbell 1980) Innovation Benefits of innovation Introduction of Cactohlastus cactorizrnl Introduction of Myxomatosis virus Introduction of disease-resistant wheat cultivars Introduction of Bos indicus cattle Introduction of Merino sheep Subterranean clover and superphosphate Regional quarantine and systematic immunisation of livestock Improved livestock fecundity Introduction of trace elements into fertiliser applications Control of prickly pear Control of rabbits Control of wheat rusts and other diseases in wheat Increased productivity through improved pest resistance in northern Australian cattle herds Increased wool production and quality Improved livestock carrying capacity Control of disseases in cattle, including tuberculosis, brucellosis and pleuropneumonia Improvement of the reproductive efficiency of sheep and cattle Improved yields in element-deficient soils evaluates the classical adoption-diffusion model and the more recent approaches to technology transfer. Defining technological innovation and the transfer process An innovation is an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or another unit of adoption (Rogers 1983). Whether or not an idea, practice or object is objectively new, as measured from the time of its first discovery, is of little concern. If an idea is new to an individual or other potential adopting body, it is an innovation (Rogers 1983). A technological innovation consists of both the idea component and the object component (Rogers and Shoemaker 1971). A technology or innovation may take the form of a new piece of machinery, a new method for soil cultivation or advice not to cultivate, the recommendation to sow a new cultivar which has improved agronomic properties over one previously grown, or the provision of information on the fate of a commonly used insecticide, such as details of its ecotoxicity and degradation rate in soil (Guerin and Kennedy 1991h). Value adding may also be considered a technological innovation. Walcott and Adams (1992) have indicated that improved productivity may be achieved by breeding added value to farm crops and livestock. This type of value adding may include the growing of crop cultivars that have reduced pest or disease susceptibility, and which, therefore, require less input (in the form of agricultural chemicals) to produce the same amount of product, resulting in higher productivity and profitability. Campbell (1980) described some of the more notable examples of classic innovations and technologies adopted by the Australian farming community (Table 1). Technology transfer is the process of moving scientific and technical knowledge, ideas, services, inventions and products from the origin of their development to where they can be put into operation. Technology adoption is the implementation of this already transferred knowledge about a technological innovation, and is the end product of the technology transfer process (Rogers 1983). Implicit in transfer is the notion of a process, and implicit in the transfer of technology is the transfer of knowledge. The innovation-decision process Rather than thinking of adoptions of innovations as events which occur in some specific time-frame or as processes which, once completed, are never to be repeated, it is preferable to think of an innovation- decision process. This process continues as long as the innovation remains viable. Crucial to the diffusion of new ideas is the innovation itself, communication, and time (Rogers and Shoemaker 1971). Four stages in the innovation-decision process of the individual have been identified by Rogers and Shoemaker (1971). The first is the knowledge phase in which the individual becomes exposed to the new idea and develops some understanding of it. The second is persuasion, during which individuals either persuade themselves, or are open to persuasion by others. At this stage too, an attitude towards the innovation evolves. The third stage is decision, when the farmer decides to accept or reject the idea. Finally, there is confirmation, in which the individual continues to question the wisdom of their decision once the decision to adopt the innovation has been made. However, it is also useful to recognise latent adoption, which may occur when farmers decide to adopt but are prevented from doing so because of various circumstances on the farm (Vanclay 1992a, 1992b). Chamala (1987), from a land management perspective, suggested a similar model to explain the adoption process, which incorporates the model of Rogers and Shoemaker (1971) and Rogers (1983).
Constraintsto the adoption of agricultural and environmental innovations 55 1 However, in Chamala's model there are crucial stages where the potential adopter may discontinue the adoption process. An example of this discontinuation, or 'dis-adoption', is highlighted in research conducted by Cary et al. (1989). These researchers showed that for every 2 farmers in northeast Victoria who had successfully adopted conservation tillage practices, there was 1 farmer who had abandoned it. Those farmers who had given up the practice believed their soil was unsuitable because with direct drilling, the soil crusted over in the top layers. Because fewer wheat seedlings broke through, early growth was poor and yields were lower. The farmers who experienced these particular problems believed cultivation was necessary to provide a permeable seedbed. It is, therefore, not sufficient for extension personnel to have simply given information or even created an interest in a new technology -they must follow through the entire adoption-decision process to ensure that adoption is maintained. Goss (1979) has criticised Rogers and Shoemaker's (1971) classical diffusion model on its lack of applicability to a cross-cultural context. However, this limitation does not constrain our use of the diffusion theory as a valuable contribution and useful model for the analysis of the adoption of agricultural innovations in Australia. Other conceptual models of adoption, such as that of Sinden and King (1990), vary in their details but most recognise a multistage decision process, which is the most important factor in the extrapolation of the classical model. Participatory action research (PAR), complements the traditional adoption-diffusion model of Rogers (1983) (Campbell and Junor 1992). This approach to technology development and transfer, and its significance to extension in Australia in the future, is dealt with later in this review. Both PAR and the classical diffusion approaches are valuable in looking at such a complex phenomenon as the transfer of innovations in agriculture and environmental management. Malik (1991), in a review of technology transfer models, argued that none of the approaches to extension individually satisfy all situations in need of technology transfer. Other limitations of the classical diffusion model have been described by Vanclay (1992a, 1992b). He indicated that adoption does not necessarily follow the suggested stages from awareness through to knowledge, trial and then adoption, because it is not always possible to trial the new technology. For example, the new technology may be new management plans for the farm, and thus require adoption in a single step. Vanclay (1992) saw the classical model as assuming that awareness and knowledge will always filter through to all sections of the farming community. However, this is not what the classical model postulates. The classical model argues that even the concept of innovation is subjective. What may be a novel idea or technology to one farmer may not be to another farmer (Rogers 1983). Thus it would seem that the stages are also dealt with in an individual manner and-that individual farmers do not reach the same stages at the same times. The informationflow process Farmers are not a passive part of the technology flow process; it is the purpose of the extensionpersonnelto help farmers help themselves. The key agents in this process are the field staff, who receive support from scientists and other technical experts in universities and research institutes. Field staff are in constant contact with farmers, particularly the leaders of farming communities. It is implicit in the classical adoption-diffusion model that contact has to be dynamic, and the flow of information must be 2-way; that is, from farmers, about what information they most need, and from institutions where the new technology originates. The 2 parties can then interact meaningfully, enabling technology dissemination to become oriented towards real farm problems (Lee 1988). Rogers (1983) stated that communication is a 2-way process of convergence, rather than 1-way, where one individual seeks to transfer a message to another. Thus he described the convergencemodel, in which there is a 2-way flow of information and where participants create and share information with one another. The multifactorial problem of technology adoption From the wide range of studies carried out in agricultural extension, the problem of non-adoption is multifactorial. For different enterprises and for different technologies or innovations, different constraints apply. The individual factors that affect adoption fall into 2 broad categories. The first puts the emphasis on the farmer and consists of factors such as personality, education level, and degree of motivation. The second emphasises the characteristics of the technology itself and the social and economic environment of the farmer, for example, how labour-intensive the new technology is, or how much it costs. These aspects are discussed in the following sections. Constraints inherent in thefarmer and thefarm Post World War 2. the needs of farmers tended to focus on practicalities, new technologies and innovations (Campbell 1980; Davidson 1981; Clowes 1990). These needs included the introduction of new animal breeds, new tillage equipment and new crop varieties, to increase production and productivity. More recently, these needs have become more specialised (Clowes 1990), focusing on, for example, artificial breeding of animals, integrated pest management systems, minimum- and zero-tillage approaches to cropping, and computer management systems. Not all farmers adopt all the technological innovations related to farm production that are available
552 L. J. Guerin and T. F. Guerin to them. Farmers tend to select from the package of practices developed by scientists, those that are consistent with their needs, socioeconomic status and attitudes toward different practices (Chamala 1987). Farmers have to make many decisions during the agricultural production cycle, keeping potential problems and alternate solutions in view. Some of these decisions are for immediate survival, while others are made in view of anticipated long-term benefits (Chamala 1987). The adoption of commercial innovations for immediate survival and viability, and concerns for the conservation of resources in the long term, are therefore 2 important aspects of management decision-making in Australian farming (Chamala 1987). Itharat (1980) proposed that farmers who are older, have more years of farming experience and who have a larger amount of land used for agricultural production, are more innovative. An Australian study by Anderson (1982) has shown that the optimum age of 40-50 years correlates well with the 'progressive farmer'. However, in a study by Warner (1981) on the adoption of conservation practices in east-central Illinois, he found that adopters tended to be relatively young, have farmed for fewer years and have smaller areas of land. Adopters of land management practices in Australia were younger than the mean age of the farmers surveyed in a recent study reviewed by Campbell and Junor (1992). From these studies it appears that there is no clear correlation between farmers' age and rate of adoption. They do, however, suggest that experience may positively influence the decision to adopt particular practices. Chudleigh (1984) indicated that the fact that many crops are grown in locations unsuited to their production is due to a lack of formal education in the farming community about the fundamentals of crop production and management. He also suggested that many producers, either through ignorance or stubbornness, do not use the extension services provided, or make themselves familiar with the requirements of certain crops. Fuglie (1989) found that early adopterstended to be farmers with above- average education, access to institutional credit and below-average farm size. In an Indian study, Sen (1983) also found that farmersmanaging small and medium-sized properties, were the most innovative. Itharat (1980) found that level of education was not a significant factor in the innovativeness of the farmer, nor was land ownership status or farm income. In his study across 3 Australian states, Anderson (1982) has shown that one characteristic of progressive farmers was the possession of larger holdings, with their properties being 22% larger than the average farm. In relation to soil conservation practices, it can be inferred that property location and property size can affect goal setting,which in turn are positively related to the adoptionof innovations (Chamala 1987). Family factors probably have an effect on the goals set by the farmer and, therefore, on their adoption of innovations (Charnala 1987). These factors include the age of the children, and the number of generations of family ownership. However, further work is required to determine the influenceof these factors on the rate of adoption. Sinden and King (1990) studied soil conservation measures in Manilla Shire, New South Wales, and noted 5 variables that differentiated between farmers who had, and farmers who had not, adopted soil conservation measures. These were farm size, perception of the general problem of erosion, pursuit of double cropping, income and level of education. They found that increases in each correlated with the likelihood of adoption. In a study reviewed by Campbell and Junor (1992), adopters of improved or new land management practices had higher levels of debt, and farm cash incomes that were higher than average. This suggests that farmers who adopt new technologies are more willing to take financial risks. Psychological constraintsinfluencing the decision process Itharat (1980) and Lobel (1987) suggested predisposing aspects of personality as a key factor in resistance to adoption. Singh and Ray (1980) found that better motivated and more intelligent farmers made the greatest financial progress on their properties. However, we believe that financial progress is not an adequate measure of technology adoption. De Klerk (1980) found that the level of aspiration of the farmer will also influence the adoption of technology. Farmer's attitudes are also important when examining the psychological constraints on adoption. Some important attitudinal variables that have been identified are attitudes of the farmer towards farming, expectation of the economic future of farming, perception of the gravity of the problem that the technology is aiming to address, attitudes toward risk and towards the technology. If an extension officer suggests to farmers that a particular technology or agricultural technique could improve productivity, yet is unable to explain how much the technology will cost, how to use it, and what benefits can be expected from its use, one can predict that conservative attitudes will predominate, and a decision based on avoiding risk will be taken not to adopt the technology (Jedlicka 1979). Agriculture nearly always involves a considerable degree of risk, and this may assume major dimensions when a new practice is being contemplated (Hawkins et al. 1982). The risk perceived by the primary producer about the technology in question is an important factor in the adoption process (Hawkins et al. 1982; Lobel 1987). If a person or a group of people do not understand the nature of the risks involved with a new venture they may be considering, it is more likely that they will be resistant to change (Jedlicka 1979). People are more likely to take a calculated risk if they
Constraintsto the adoptionof agriculturaland environmental innovations 553 understand the circumstances associated with that risk and can compare the new alternative with the old technology, and consequently determine that the new alternative is better (Jedlicka 1979).Ongaro (1988) also confirmed that a perception of risk leading to a farmer's uncertainty is an important factor in the adoption of new technology. Hawkins et al. (1982) also suggested that it is important to appreciate the pervasiveness of risk in most forms of agriculture, and particularly small-scale farming. Attitudes to risk are subjective and will, therefore, vary between individuals. Individual farmers typically will reduce the risk by choosing reliable enterprises for their own particular geographic and climatic location. Vanclay (1992) pointed out that risk is greater for environmental innovations than for commercial innovations because with both, the risk includes the capital resources expended and the yield for that season. However, with environmental innovations, risk also includes the production for future seasons if the environmental degradation is not stopped. On the other hand, research conducted by Fuglie (1989) found that attitudes toward risk taking did not have a significant effect on the decision to adopt. Bangura (1983) found that the best predictor of adoption was the farmer's individual goals in farming, whereas a weak relationship was found between farmer motivation and adoption. Farmer motivation was determined by the farmer's socioeconomic status and economic constraints (Bangura 1983). Sinden and King (1990) noted that any model of the adoption process must include the motivations of the farmer. These researchers highlighted the income and capital gains motive in particular, and suggested that the stewardship motive of passing on to future generations a fully productive resource may also be of importance to many landholders. Beliefs, values and fears are all factors that affect farmer's attitudes. Chamala (1987) defined beliefs as "the knowledge and information that a person assumes to be true about the environment". Since beliefs underlie attitudes towards various practices, it is expected that particular practices will be difficult to change. Chamala (1987) defined values as general feelings about what is desirable or undesirable. They give "order and direction to the ever-flowing stream of human acts and thoughts7' (Chamala 1987). Lobe1 (1987) suggested that farmers may perceive a lack of personal control over agricultural production. Thus, bad experiences in the past are causing farmers to reject new technology indiscriminately in the present. We suggest that this emotional response is akin to the psychological phenomenon of 'learned helplessness'. This phenomenon of learned helplessness has played a major role in the understanding of the most fundamental aspects of behavioural conditioning (Schwarz 1989). For example, in some farmers there seems to exist a learned helplessness effect where the adoption of technology by farmers in the past may not have made any difference to their particular farming practices. Thus, farmers have learnt that their adoption behaviour does not matter and that nothing they do makes a difference to the level of production on their own farms. In addition, resources committed to a new enterprise often represent a large portion of the farmer's cash reserve, and the loss of such a cash reserve may also inhibit further attempts at innovation (Hawkins et al. 1982). A farmer's attitude to change is one of the main catalysts for the adoption of an innovation (Chamala 1987). Negative attitudes isolate the individual from information that is considered inconsistent with beliefs, values, and needs. Conversely, positive attitudes prompt an individual to seek new ideas and information. Changing one's behaviour is often unpleasant and it is often easier to change perception and judgement instead (Albrecht et al. 1989). It is well documented that individuals tend to change their attitudes so that they become consistent with their actions (Mook 1987). Assuming that people have a need for security and a feeling of wellbeing, it is to be expected that information that creates too much uncertainty will not pass through the process of perception without some adjustment. Even though a state of inner tension is necessary for action, only a certain degree of tension is acceptable or bearable. What has been called 'cognitive dissonance' describes this situation where elements in thinking and perception are in conflict and form a state of discord (Mook 1987). Hawkins et al. (1982) also noted this psychological discomfort and unpleasantness of inconsistent or unbalanced mental states in relation to the adoption of new technologies. There are 2 major schools of thought as to the best methods to achieve attitude change (Salmon 1981). These are the approaches held by learning theorists and cognitive theorists. The latter approach, which is taken by Salmon, suggests examination by the farmer of present attitudes and the ways they might be hindering their goals. Cognitive theories see the farmer as an active participant in the exploration of their attitudes and subsequent conscious decision making to modify these attitudes. However, with learning theory approaches, the farmer is viewed as a passive recipient whose behaviour can be manipulated by skillful control of the environment (Salmon 1981). Instead, Salmon argued that farmers are basically self-directed learners who seek out knowledge which is most relevant to their current needs and problems, and integrate it into their own frame of reference. In order for farmers to adopt new technology, Diallo (1983) suggested that farmers need to have an
554 L. J. Guerin and T. F. Guerin understanding of, and belief in, the technology. In research conducted by Siddaramaiah and Jalihal (1982), farmers to whom the 'oral advancers' or extension workers, had already gone had increased recall and comprehension. However, we maintain that recall and comprehension is not an adequate measure in evaluating whether or not the technology is adopted. Nevertheless, De Klerk (1980) found that perception of the new technology was a precursor to- adoption, followed by aspirational level and knowledge, in that order. For adoption to occur, it is necessary that farmers' adverse attitudes to an innovation change. Once the innovation is perceived as profitable, appropriate, having an acceptable level of risk, being compatible with the farmer'sgoals, and being easily integrated into existing farm practices, then the innovation will be adopted relatively quickly (Barr and Cary 1992b). The social and economic etzvironment Opinion leaders are thought to have an important influence on the adoption process (Sethu-Rao and Bhaskaran 1978; Rogers 1983). They uphold or create new norms in a communitv which influencethe behaviour of farmers. It was observed in some farming communities that there was a 'spoked-wheel' type of interaction, with many farmers going to a few leading farmers for information and advice. This phenomenon is not negative; rather, it should be hamessed and used to the advantage of scientists in promoting their message. However, leaders, no matter how innovative they are personally, are unlikely to favour innovations that threaten their roles as leaders (Dixon 1982). If this were the case, one would reach a stalemate and these opinion leaders would become a liability. It is important for extension personnel to locate opinion leaders and gain their approval and confidence by providing them with information on new technologies. In Australia, it is possible that opinion leaders play a significantrole in encouraging the adoption of appropriate technologies among farming communities. In an Australian study, Anderson (1982) described innovators, or those who were quick to adopt new technologies, as progressive farmers. It is likely that these farmers are influencial in encouraging other farmers to adopt. However, from a study of Queensland farmers by Tully (1966), the progressive farmers were shown to have no positive influence on the rate of adoptionby other farmers in that same community. Further research is required to determine the role of leadership in rural communities in adoption, and to ascertain whether progressive farmers are opinionleaders. Farmers will consider a new idea in the light of its advantages and perceived benefits. These advantages will be considered relative to those of the practice it replaces. The adopter's perception of an innovation may be influenced by various factors, including their social or economic position and the message of the extension officer. The advantage may be expressed in terms of economic profitability, safety or security, enhanced social standing, or of self-esteem (Dixon 1982). In a study of the adoption of soil conservation practices, Sinden and King (1990) found that the major determinant in the final decision to adopt was the economic measure of land condition. Two other significant variables were found to be key economic factors. These were the annual wheat yield and livestock carrying capacity. The significance of these economic variables provided further evidence that the economic paradigm is a useful model of farmer behaviour (Sinden and King 1990). The initial and sustaining cost of a technology is another important aspect affecting its adoption. The farmer must be able to see the financial benefits of making the adoption in addition to the long-term benefits of maintaining productivity (Chamala 1987). An example of such long-term benefits has been demonstrated by the adoption of innovations in land management in the Land Care program (Chamala and Mortiss 1990;Campbell and Junor 1992).It is also likely that adoption will not occur if a big gain is not expected by the farmer. Presumably a large gain is needed to compensate for the risk involved. The technology developed may be shown to provide a certain minimum level of improvement in productivity; however, it must be seen to be a substantial improvement by the farmer (Cary et al. 1989).In a study of conservation cropping in northern Victoria, a steady increase in the use of direct drilling and minimum-tillage cropping during the 1980s was reported by Cary et al. (1989). The key advantage which convinced farmers to bring these innovations into practice was the lower crop-growing costs, which were clearly demonstrated in terms of savings of time and fuel (Ewers 1990). Although improved soil structure results in higher yields, this has not led to increases in adoption. yield increases may need to be converted to profit or income increases before adoption is secured. Many farmers are now being forced to reappraise the traditional systems of conventional cultivation due to the high costs of equipment and fuel, and the increasing cost and scarcity of labour (Corbin and Pratley 1984). This could, however, be offset by higher chemical costs with the adoption of reduced tillage systems. Arcia (1980) suggested that the adoption of new technologies should incorporate available information about farming systems and the circumstances in which the farmer or farming system is operating. Even technologies that are supported by extensive research and development may not successfully transfer, usually because the socioeconomic setting in which the problem is embedded has not been taken into account (Russell et al. 1989; Bawden and Macadam 1991). Bangura (1983) suggested that farmers' individual characteristics and
Constraintsto the adoption of agriculturaland environmentalinnovations 555 their economic limitations need to be considered by planners of agricultural development programs. The adoption of new technology may also cause existing farm equipment to become obsolete before the end of its useful life (Swindale 1979). Not all technology-based innovations, however, have a financial cost. In some instances there may be a direct saving of expenditure with no initial output of resources. Allowance should also be made for socioeconomic variables associated with risk and uncertainty in the design of new farming technologies (Ongaro 1988). The relationship between socioeconomic status and innovation has generally been depicted as positive and linear (Gartrell et al. 1973). These findings have also been supportedby a South American study, where low-income farmers were found to be more risk-averse (Arcia 1980). Bangura (1983) found that farmers prefer to adopt those innovations that satisfy their security needs, are less complex, require less time to use and are less labour- demanding. Innovations that are simple and relatively easy to understand are more likely to be adopted than those that are complex. These simple innovations include recommendations to change crop cultivars or to use a new chemical (Martin et al. 1988). These can be communicated easily and in a short time (Dixon 1982; Vanclay 1992a, 1992b). Although it appears that the more complex the innovation,the greaterthe resistance to its adoption (Vanclay 1992a, 1992b), Cary (1992) proposed that these complex or difficult practices may still be adopted,but their rate of adoptionwill be slow. The individual is less likely to be innovative in an environment which does not favour change, even if the individual does. If one was to go outside the social boundaries, one would risk being considered a social deviant and at the mercy of social sanctions (Dixon 1982). Tully (1966) demonstrated this problem where 2 early adopters became isolated from a larger farming community that contained 34 farmers in total. These farmers lost their influence among the larger community of dairy farmers, as they were considered to have deviated too far from the group norms. These 2 farmers had adopted improved pastures on their farms for 15 years before the rest of the farming group, and their levels of income were 3 times higher than the average income on the farms of that region. Despite their higher productivity, they had very little impact on the rest of the farming community in securing adoption. Chamala (1987) suggested that the attitudes of farmers towards the methods used in agricultural production are influenced by macro- and micro-level factors. Macro-level factors include government policies such as legislation, taxation policies, subsidies, availability of lower-interest capital, cross-compliance, cost-sharing, import duties, demand for food, prices at the international level and foreign exchange fluctuations. The so called micro-level factors are those aspects associated with socio-psychological variables and information exposure. Ben-Achour (1988) suggested that there is a positive relationship between the availability of family labour and the adoption of a new technology. However, this is unlikely to be the case in Australia, where the labour resource has traditionally been scarce (Campbell 1980; Davidson 1981). Further evidence is required to determine whether this is still the case. Constraints inherent in the irinovation Rogers (1983) describes 5 aspects of innovations. These are its relative advantage, compatibility with existing innovations, trialability, observability, and con~plexity.If a new innovation is complex and its cost and expected returns are difficult to identify, and the adoption challenges the farmer's belief, then the communication from researcher to extension officer to farmer is less likely to lead to adoption. In analysing the constraints to adoption that are inherent in the innovation itself, there are 2 major types of innovations. These are commercial and environmental innovations (Chamala 1987; Vanclay 1992a, 1992b). Commercial innovations are designed to increase productivity in a relatively short time and have immediately visible effects. These appeal to farmers who wish to increase returns, reduce labour input or increase social status. Environmental innovations are designed to protect the environment and maintain long-term productivity, for example, conservation tillage practices and integrated pest management (Chamala 1987), and advice to use chemicals in a particular way. Discussion by Cary (1992) of the adoption of land conservation practices has revealed that the major determinantsaffecting the adoption of a soil conservation practice are the attributes of the practice itself. A case in point is that there is little evidence that beliefs about soil salinity control alone influence the rate of pasture sowing, independently of expectations about the profitability of this innovation (Barr and Cary 19926). Another example is the adoption of new wheat varieties by farmers in the northern wheat belt of New South Wales (Martin et al. 1988). In their survey, conducted between 1983and 1985,Martin et al. (1988) showed that the wheat cultivars that were grown corresponded closely to those recommended by the New South Wales Department of Agriculture. Only 1 case of growth of the non-recommended cultivar, Osprey, was encountered among the 50 farms studied. Bardsley (1982) indicated that the reasons farmers do not adopt newly recommended wheat varieties are that they are offered no clear improvement over those existing varieties, and that they may have strong ties with the existing variety. In the survey by Martin et al. (1988), the herbicide chlorsulfuron was also quickly adopted. This study showed that the innovations were readily adopted
556 L. J. Guerin and T. F. Guerin because of their clear advantages over existing practices, their compatibility with other practices on the farm, their high degree of observability and low degree of complexity. These attributes are characteristic of innovations that are readily adopted (Cary 1992; Vanclay 1992a, 19923). On the other hand, adoption of nitrogenous fertiliser use has been slow, considering that widespread deficiencies in the soils of the region have been known for almost 40 years (Martin et al. 1988).This slow adoption of nitrogenous fertilisers may have occurred because of cost and a low and variable correlation between the soil nitrate test at sowing and grain yield at harvest (Martin et al. 1988). Also in this study, the estimated area of wheat stubble that was burnt in northern New South Wales in 1985 was 227 000 ha. There has been a significant reduction in stubble burning over the past 40 years. However, tillage practices have changed to a lesser extent over the same period, with minimum tillage and no-tillage direct drilling occurring on 14 and 1% of farms in the study, respectively. In contrast to the results of the study by Cary et al. (1989) on the adoption of conservation practices in northern Victoria, this level of adoption is relatively low. The key advantage that convinced farmers to bring these innovations into practice was the lower crop-growing costs, which were clearly demonstrated in savings in time and fuel (Cary et al. 1989; Ewers 1990). Thus the northern New South Wales wheat-belt farmers studied by Martin et al. (1988) may require further convincing of the financial benefits of conservation tillage practices if greater rates of adoption are to be achieved. As demonstrated by Martin et al. (1988), there are usually no problems in securing the adoption of new varieties of wheat, a crop which is bred purely for grain. A very different picture is presented by the oat crop. Although this crop can produce very high dry matter yields during the winter without decreasing the overall state average grain yield of 1.38 t/ha, widespread adoption of recommended varieties is still low (Guerin and Guerin 1993). Methods of oat crop management suitable for most farm situations have been carried out on New South Wales government research stations for well over the 34-year period recorded (Guerin and Guerin 1992~).The major constraints to the adoption of recommended oat varieties in New South Wales are the scarcity of seed of the recommended varieties and a preconception of what a 'good' oat variety looks like. In many parts of the wheatbelt, the 'grain only' varieties, often from Western Australia, are killed off by frost and close grazing by sheep. Registered oat seed growers in the wheat-growing areas further increase the already plentiful supply of these 'grain only' varieties, as well as mid-season varieties, neither of which have been bred with dual-purpose characteristics. Farmers of the potentially high-yielding soils of the slopes and tablelands cannot obtain enough seed of the recommended varieties and often have to sow 'grain only' oats which do not produce autumn or winter feed for grazing (Duncan 1983). This non-adoption of recommended, dual-purpose varieties may have also limited the production of fat lambs in these regions (Spurway 1975;Archer and Swain 1977). Not all innovations developed by scientists and other technology developers are relevant to all farming systems (Audirac and Beaulieu 1986). These researchers argued that technology adoption is influenced by factors called 'access conditions' and that potential adopters respond more to these than they do to attitudinal variables. Access conditions are intrinsic in the technology itself, and include factors such as how knowledge-demanding and how labour-saving the technology is. The access conditions also consist of distributional characteristics of the innovation, such as whether it is promoted through publicly funded extension or by commercial franchising. Traditionally in Australia, much of this promotion has been conducted by district agronomists from State Departments of Agriculture (Campbell 1980). However, in recent times with reduced government funding, this service has become less common. Commercial organisations, including rural retailers and agricultural consultants, have supplemented this service to a large extent (Wylie 1992). In fact, rural retailers have siezed on this need of farmers, turning it into an opportunity to add value to the products they sell (B. Guerin, pers. comm.). Sound advice can fall on deaf ears if the farmers being addressed have no awareness of the problem. Extension officers may have a difficult task that demands a good deal of patience, and this involves first creating an awareness of problems in the target group. In many cases, however, the farmers have well founded reasons for rejecting an innovation (Vanclay 1992a, 1992b) and the adviser must examine these in detail to appreciate the reasons for its rejection (Albrecht et al. 1989). There is another problem of relevance in this regard. Discrepancies between experimental farm yields and those found on most farms, for many crops and over many years, are a likely reason for farmers deciding not to grow a new crop cultivar. Davidson and Martin (1965) and Davidson et al. (1967) have provided some evidence for this for wheat in Western Australia and Victoria. In unfavourable years, the average yield of commercial crops is approximately equal to experimental yields. In years favourable to the crop, both farm and experimental yields increase, but experimental yields increase at a greater rate. Apparent exceptions to this are sugar yields in Queensland and rice in the MIA. The results of some research are simple and easily observed, and are therefore easier to communicate to farmers. Innovations with a high degree of observability
Constraintsto the adoption of agricultural and environmental innovations 557 are more likely to be adopted (Dixon 1982). Warner (1981) also proposed that a lack of observability of results will hinder the adoption of technology. However, it should be remembered that some innovations do not lend themselves to easy communication and sometimes the information packages are too complex. These are some of the most common reasons for non-adoption (Chamala 1987). This should not be a problem, however, if the information is prepared by professional communicators. Lack of observability of the results of new technology has been shown to limit the motivation of some farmers (Warner 1981). Demonstrations of new technologies, however, can greatly improve their observability. Demonstrationscan take the form of field days, on-farm demonstrations, or visits to other farmers who have successfully adopted a particular technology. The formation of participatory groups in the Australian Land Care program has closely involved the land-using community and has helped understand the need to prevent and overcome problems of land degradation (Campbell and Junor 1992). This approach of establishing land-user groups, has worked well in promoting change in land management practices (Chamala and Mortiss 1990; Campbelland Junor 1992).This is being achieved through organised tours in which farmers to travel to on-site demonstrations, and through active participation in land- user discussion groups. This approach is being further addressed in projects to develop self-mustering systems for sheep (O'Dempsey 1992), improve wool production from pasture (Wilson 1992) and increase the adoption of herbicide-based fallows (Cox 1992). The outcomes from these studies should prove useful in evaluations of the effectivenessof this approach to extension. Swindale (1979) suggests that technology that can be readily transferred from the research environment, and which is appropriate for the farmer's needs, may not be accepted by the farmer because it is not understood. This is the case especially for complex technology that evolves from multidisciplinary efforts. It has been inferred that scientists are generally better at analysis than synthesis, and thus that the process of recapturing technology from its principles can be difficult for the farmer (Swindale 1979).Therefore, new technology may prove inappropriate if the information gathered about farmers' needs and resources is inapplicable or inaccurate (Swindale 1979). The role of communicationin the adoption process An important aspect in the adoption process is the identification and proper use of appropriate communication (Blum 1987). For example, it is unlikely that the use of media in agricultural extension can replace personal contact between extension workers and target groups or individual farmers. Media may make this work easier and broaden the range of people addressed (Anderson 1981). They can, therefore, be a great help in extension work because they enable the individual adviser to operate more effectively. They also provide a way of making it easier for the target group or individual farmer to absorb information. For a review of extension aids, the reader is referred to Mortiss (1988) and Albrecht et al. (1989). Some of the main methods are described in the following paragraphs. Methods of communication that were traditionally used in Australian agriculture were word of mouth, print and postal media (Milne 1992). These methods were slow and were often limited as to their geographical destinations. With more sophisticated, electronic communications, information access is becoming less significant as a constraint to the adoption of technology. The telephone, while providing farmers with immediate information regarding a problem, has its limitations. Even though the cost of long-distance telephone calls has decreased, it can still intimidate many people. Also, telephone communication depends on the person who is being called to be available; unavailability may lead to the 'telephone tag' syndrome of 2 people continually trying to return calls, but never making contact (Hawkins et al. 1992). Some of the main forms of electronic communications are electronic databases and on-line retrieval systems, electronic mail, electronic bulletin boards, and electronic conferences (Milne 1992). Farmers need continual access to information. More experienced farmers may need specialised information, while farmers operating a diversified farming system may need a complex mix of information (Lee 1988). Electronic networks are proving successful in the transfer of research that is relevant to Australian farmers. LandcareNET, an electronic network for Land Care groups across Australia, is an example (Hawkins et al. 1992). This system has become significant in technology adoption by both disseminating useful knowledge that already exists, and providing research findings as they are required. This latter aspect is of considerablevalue as it should help reduce the problem of information overload to primary producers. The results of a recent survey conducted on the 1andcareNET system to determine the interest areas of the network users were reported by Hawkins et al. (1992). Six issues were found to be of interest to 20% or more of the users surveyed. These issues were: salinity, erosion and acidity of soil, planning for whole farms and catchment areas, and education programs. This system has improved the interaction between land users, extension personnel, and technology developers. The implementation of LandcareNET has therefore complemented the traditional approach to extension in land management. By determining the gaps in farmers' knowledge, through the use of surveys on the computer network, extension personnel can focus their time spent in personal contact clarifyingfarmers' needs.
558 L. J. Guerin and T. F. Guerin Improved access to information for farmers and extension personnel may assist the agricultural industry to gain a competitive advantage by reducing costs, increasing the rate of adoption of innovative technologies and methodologies, and providing support services for the proper integration of new innovations. A recent conference in Australia has further addressed the issue of information technology and reported a number of useful applications in the agricultural extension arena (Cuddy 1992; Gillard 1992; Hawkins and Rimmington 1992; Stapper 1992a). The role of the media and the ruralpress The effectiveness of providing information about new technologies to farmers-depends largely on the medium used. Where there is no extension officer or other skilled individual or group to provide the necessary information, radio, television and printed media will be important. Radio's effectiveness lies in its immediacy for conveying information. Television has the advantage of stimulating the farmer audience through the combination of pictures and words (Clowes 1990). Printed media allow the farmer to deal with issues in more detail. The permanency of printed media enables farmers to refer back to specific points, thus allowing them to gain a greater understanding of the innovation (Clowes 1990). The most important printed media for conveying information are the rural press and State Departments of Agriculture publications. Anderson (1981) has reported that advice from extension personnel is only 1 source of information among many used by farmers in decision making. Ratings of the importance of information sources showed that farmers regarded other farmers as the most important source (85%); the second was reading (excluding state Department of Agriculture Publications) (78%). Third was state Department of Agriculture publications (60%).In this study, advisers were rated sixth (59%). Rural newspapers, journals and magazines are the specific means whereby farmers find out about new technologies, including recommendations for new crop and pasture cultivars. In New South Wales the supply of much of this technical material has traditionally been the role of the State Department of Agriculture, through the regular publication of technical mailouts, which almost all farmers received. The rural press has communicated some of this important information throughout Australia in weekly tabloids and specialised journals. In 1991 there were at least 43 specialised serials available to farmers in Australia, covering all the major areas of agricultural practice (Cribb 1991). Role of the scientist in the adoption of technology Effective communication between scientists and farmers is a prerequisite for effective knowledge flow (Pickering 1992; Gray 1993). This can be achieved through the use of extension personnel or directly from the scientist to the farmer. It is likely that if this communication is not effective, then technology adoption will be limited. The following paragraphs describe some of the issues where scientists directly influence the adoption of the technologies they develop. Pickering (1992) defined many of the constraints on scientists in communicating their findings to the press. One that is of particular importance in the transfer of technology to primary producers is the lack of training and familiarity that many journalists have with agricultural science and related technologies. Pickering (1992), who claimed that few journalists have studied any science since high school, suggested that there may be difficulties in persuading some journalists to write on technical or scientific topics. Furthermore, he indicated that this may also mean that when interviewing scientists, they will often pretend to understand material that actually confuses them. Journalists are also restricted in what they write by their audience. Thus even if they do understand the complex issues themselves, they are restricted to writing in general terms for a wide audience. It is therefore important for scientists and other technology developers to limit the volume and complexity of material presented to journalists writing articles for the rural audience, and to present it clearly. Pickering (1992) believed that the most important constraints in the communication process are those that are imposed by the methodology of the scientists or that arise from their perceptions of how scientific information should be disseminated, or what they may need to do to achieve professional recognition. Scientists have often been criticised for lacking the skills necessary for the implementation of their technological innovations. They tend to rely on the written word for their information and subsequent dissemination of their findings. Farmers, on the other hand, rely mostly on visual and verbal messages in acquiring knowledge (Hanlon 1989; Pickering 1992). Scientists often assume that the gap between themselves and farmers will be automatically filled by the farmers or extension personnel (Pickering 1992). Farmers are often expected to be able to fully understand the various aspects of the new technology, and interpret complex agronomic interactions which can be different from those associated with the previous technology that may have been employed (Hanlon 1989). Effective research should, therefore, include a communication or extension process which starts at the design stage of the research, that is, by making sure that farmers want to know the results in the first place. The researcher does not have to do all the communicating. A research team may have specialist communicators (or extension staffj, but should not have so many as to break what should be strong 2-way communication links between researchers and farmers
Constraintsto the adoptionof agriculturaland environmental innovations 559 (Wylie 1992).Farmers often take an interest in specialist advice when it is made directly available to them. This is evident when scientists are given the chance to discuss particular aspects of their own work directly with farmers. Thus 1 role of the scientist is to encourage farmers to ask questions of themselves about the day-to- day tasks they conduct. If farmers could be encouraged to ask more questions about their own farming practice, their understanding of the task would increase and their awareness of the need for technology adoption might be increased, where this is appropriate. Scientists too could be encouraged to ask questions of the farmer. Not only can there be a breakdown in communication between technology developers and users, but the same may occur between the technology developers and the extension personnel. In some instances, a negative attitude has been shown to exist between research scientists and extension personnel, which in turn causes infrequent communication between the 2 (Ojiambo 1989). Wylie (1992) has indicated that in Australia, this breakdown in communication between extension personnel and scientists may be the cause of research findings remaining unused. There is also a tendency for scientists to disseminate their research findings in highly specialised scientific journals in a manner that helps them to command respect from other scientists, thereby helping the scientists to become established in their own fields. The disadvantage is that scientists are likely to place less emphasis on publishing in extension-type journals, and as a result the farmer is unlikely to be targeted in the reader audience (Pickering 1992). To ensure effective adoption, scientists and other technology developers need to acquire information about agricultural practices on farms. This may be obtained using both formal and informal sources. According to Ojiambo (1989), personal communication with immediate colleagues is the most frequently used source. Agricultural scientific literature and farmers themselves are also considered as important in decision making and problem solving (Ojiambo 1989). Technology developers should consider how their innovations will be perceived by the farmer and whether they are likely to be successful in improving productivity when implementing these under Australian conditions (Lawrence 1992). Scientists, therefore, need to understand problems with existing technology in the farming operation in order to develop effective new technology. Clunies-Ross (1990) has suggested that adoption is more likely to occur where there is a problem with existing technology than as the result of new scientific findings. Conservation tillage is a case in point. Diallo (1983) showed that the most important reason for adopting no-till practices was soil conservation, followed by energy and time savings. The tangible benefits to the farmer were observed as a reduction in soil erosion and fuel expenses. Limited adoption of agronomic research has been caused, at least in part, by presentation of research findings in a general form which is not paddock- and season-specific, and which is often difficult to integrate into other management practices (Stapper 1992b). It is likely that farmers tend to localise their knowledge of farming operations, while researchers tend to generalise their knowledge for dissemination. Current research is developing interactive, computer-based systems to assist producers and advisers in the optimal economic management of crops. This work includes specific information on fertiliser management, variety and sowing date choice, choice of rotations, disease and weed control, and fallowing (Stapper 1992b). When scientists conduct their research, they also need to keep in mind the criteria which make particular enterprises successful in Australian agriculture (Davidson 1981). First, the resulting innovation must have a low labour requirement for its implementation, as the labour resource in Australia has traditionally been scarce and is now costly. Second, it must be focused on producing a product for an export market since the local market is quickly satisfied. Third, it must benefit an enterprise that makes use of relatively large land areas. Fourth, it should also benefit an enterprise that produces a product that is easily transported to its export market. There is no point expecting that a new, high-yielding crop or animal breed will be adopted in any sustainable manner if it requires 2 or 3 times more labour input to produce the higher gains. Thus for an innovation to be successfully adopted into Australian farming practice, it should fulfil Davidson's criteria and the technology developer should be aware of these. Every component of the farming system is influenced by climate and weather, so it is very important that a consideration of climate be incorporated into agricultural research. This is particularly the case in Australian agriculture where climate, even within a state, can vary quite dramatically (Kelleher 1984). Climatic considerations are especially important to those who are breeding new crops and pastures. One example of this is the breeding of oat varieties in northern New SouthWales, where the summer rainfall climate has been suitable for the selectionof frost-resistant, dual-purpose cultivars for a wide range of climates (Vertigan 1979; Craig and Potter 1983; McLeod et al. 1985; Simmons 1989; Smith 1990; Guerin and Guerin 199227;Guerin and Guerin 1993). Thus, there are several important constraints to the adoption of technology that are influenced directly by scientists. These should be taken into consideration by extension planners when developing extension programs. The role of extension personnel The role of extension personnel in the transfer of technology in Australian agriculture has been pivotal in achieving the high levels of adoption of many important
560 L. J. Guerin and T. F. Guerin innovations (Campbell 1980). Extension officers must understand all aspects of the technology in order to communicateeffectivelyto the farmer. But prior to this, the extension officermust explore and understand the farmer's needs first and foremost, to determine what is relevant technology for the particular situation. It is only then that the farmer can be expectedto adopt the technology. In Cary's (1992) discussion of the adoption of soil conservation practices in Australia, he showed that very few farmers believed that direct drilling would give increased yields, despite the widespread belief by farmers that it improved soil structure. He has also pointed out that while many farmers were aware of soil compaction on their farms, those who saw soil compaction or crusting on their farm were no more likely to direct drill than farmers who believed they had neither problem on their farm. This is an example where the help of extension personnel was vital in enabling the farmer to make the connection in understanding between higher yields and conservation tillage practices. Koons (1987) observed that a valuable message may not always be communicated, even if the extension personnel are knowledgeable and the farmers are re-ceptive. Thus basic scientific knowledge does not necessarily reach the rural community. A case in point is cropping enterprises, where dramatic improvements in agricultural productivity can be achieved by introducing simple, low-cost practices such as changing to a new variety that responds better to the prevailing conditionson the farm than a previously recommended variety (Blum 1987). If these simple messages are not conveyed clearly to the farmer, easily accessible gains will not be realised. Wylie (1992) argued that extension personnel are not always needed since innovative farmers have direct contact with researchers, have research trials on their properties and quickly put research into practice where it is of demonstrable value to them. However, we suggest that this is an extreme and rare situation and that most farmers, even if relatively innovative, are not of this sort. Some farmers may believe they are performing their routine farming tasks correctly but cannot see that the task could be made more efficient by adopting a particular technology. These farmers are unlikely to ask for the help of extension officers. It may be that other forms of information will be significant in this situation, such as the media and contact with farmer leaders. Some fanners will continue to base their adoption decisions on traditional beliefs and social criteria. Information on matters such as crop prices, fertiliser availability or irrigation schedules can efficiently be passed on through mass media, whereas attempts to impart skills or to persuade require a more personal involvement by extension personnel (World Bank 1990). Cary (1992) observed that many farmers who had abandoned the adoption of direct-drilling practices kept a positive attitude towards that particular technology. Despite their dis-adoption, they still believed that the advantages of the technology outweighed the disadvantages, but not on their own farms. The link between soil conservation attitudes and farm management behaviour was weak. This indicates the need for extension personnel to focus on solving technical problems associated with the implementation of conservation tillage technology, as well as on changing attitudes and awareness of soil degradation. Other examples of where there is a weak link between soil conservation attitudes and farm management behaviour have been observed in farmers' beliefs about agricultural chemicals and the adoption of the practice of stubble retention
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