Adoption of environmental technologies


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Adoption of environmental technologies

  1. 1. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 1994,34,549-71Constraints to the adoption of innovationsin agricultural research and environmentalmanagement: a reviewL. J. ~ u e r i and T. F. Guerin BC n~A Innovation Assessment and Research, PO Box 462, World Trade Centre, Melbourne, Vic. 3005, Australia. Minenco Bioremediation Services, 1 Research Avenue, Bundoora, Vic. 3083, Australia. Author to whom reprint requests should be addressed. Summary. There are several constraints to the issues relating to the participatory action research adoption of technologies and innovations by Australian (PAR) approach are raised and discussed. In addition, farmers. Here an attempt has been made to define the methodologies in extension research are briefly major constraints to adoption. These are identified as: the discussed and the roles of extension personnel and extent to which the farmer finds the new technology agricultural scientists in the technology adoption complex and difficult to comprehend; how readily process are examined. observable the outcomes of an adoption are; its financial The adoption of innovations in natural resource cost; the farmers beliefs and opinions towards the management is discussed and the findings indicate that technology; the farmers level of motivation; the farmers this is an area of agriculture in which extension practice perception of the relevance of the new technology; and and research will play an increasingly important role in the farmers attitudes towards risk and change. the future. Recommendations for further research into The classical adoption-diffusion model and adoption of technological innovations in resource subsequent modifications are discussed. In particular, management and agriculture are made.Introduction on non-adoption in Australia (e.g. Fallding 1957; Agricultural practice in Australia has changed from Davidson and Martin 1965; Tully 1966; Davidson et al.the production (or volume) orientation of the early part 1967; Hawkins et al. 1974; Anderson 1979, 1981;of this century, through productivity- or efficiency- Salmon I98 1; Anderson 1982; Bardsley 1982; Macadambased agriculture of the 1960s, to the current philosophy and Bawden (1985); Vere and Muir 1986; Martin et al.of sustainability. Timely adoption of relevant 1988; Lees 1991; Barr and Cary 1992b; Campbell 1992).technologies and innovations by the farming community Various aspects of this research have been reviewed byhas been critical for improving agricultural productivity Chamala (1987), Russell et al. (1989), McKenzie (1990),in Australia (Campbell 1980) during each of these eras. Sinden and King (1990), Anon. (1992), Campbell andTypically the important participants in this process have Junor (1992), Cary (1992), Frank and Chamala (1992),been federal and state governments and industry Southwood (l992), and Vanclay (1992a, 1992b).(Campbell 1980) and, more recently, research This review further examines the various constraintsinstitutions (Steinke 1991). The problem of non- limiting the adoption of agricultural technologies byadoption is common around the world, and much farmers in Australia. Key findings of Australianresearch in this field has been carried out in developing researchers are evaluated, which draw upon workcountries, where the need for very basic agricultural conducted in a range of agricultural enterprises. Aspectstechnologies is great (Sethu-Rao and Bhaskaran 1978; of this problem that have been researched in otherSwindale 1979; Arcia 1980; DeKlerk 1980; Itharat countries are considered where deemed relevant to 1980; Singh and Ray 1980; Siddaramaiah and Jalihal technology adoption in Australia. However, our 1982; Bangura 1983; Jones 1986; Koons 1987; Jameel conclusions are drawn primarily from Australian studies.1988; Lee 1988; Oakley 1988; Albrecht et al. 1989; We aim to identify the constraints to adoption that areChambers e t al. 1989; Fuglie 1989; Ojiambo 1989; relevant to Australian farmers, and to highlight areas forUehara 1989). Much research has also been conducted future research. In addition, this review defines and
  2. 2. 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 Control of prickly pear Introduction of Myxomatosis virus Control of rabbits Introduction of disease-resistant wheat cultivars Control of wheat rusts and other diseases in wheat Introduction of Bos indicus cattle Increased productivity through improved pest resistance in northern Australian cattle herds Introduction of Merino sheep Increased wool production and quality Subterranean clover and superphosphate Improved livestock carrying capacity Regional quarantine and systematic Control of disseases in cattle, including tuberculosis, immunisation of livestock brucellosis and pleuropneumonia Improved livestock fecundity Improvement of the reproductive efficiency of sheep and cattle Introduction of trace elements into fertiliser applications Improved yields in element-deficient soilsevaluates the classical adoption-diffusion model and the development to where they can be put into operation.more recent approaches to technology transfer. Technology adoption is the implementation of thisDefining technological innovation and the transfer already transferred knowledge about a technologicalprocess innovation, and is the end product of the technology An innovation is an idea, practice, or object that is transfer process (Rogers 1983). Implicit in transfer is theperceived as new by an individual or another unit of notion of a process, and implicit in the transfer ofadoption (Rogers 1983). Whether or not an idea, practice technology is the transfer of knowledge.or object is objectively new, as measured from the time The innovation-decision processof its first discovery, is of little concern. If an idea is new Rather than thinking of adoptions of innovationsto an individual or other potential adopting body, it is an as events which occur in some specific time-frame or asinnovation (Rogers 1983). processes which, once completed, are never to be A technological innovation consists of both the idea repeated, it is preferable to think of an innovation-component and the object component (Rogers and decision process. This process continues as long as theShoemaker 1971). A technology or innovation may take innovation remains viable. Crucial to the diffusion ofthe form of a new piece of machinery, a new method for new ideas is the innovation itself, communication, andsoil cultivation or advice not to cultivate, the time (Rogers and Shoemaker 1971). Four stages in therecommendation to sow a new cultivar which has innovation-decision process of the individual have beenimproved agronomic properties over one previously identified by Rogers and Shoemaker (1971).grown, or the provision of information on the fate of a The first is the knowledge phase in which thecommonly used insecticide, such as details of its individual becomes exposed to the new idea and developsecotoxicity and degradation rate in soil (Guerin and some understanding of it. The second is persuasion,Kennedy 1991h). Value adding may also be considered a during which individuals either persuade themselves, ortechnological innovation. Walcott and Adams (1992) have are open to persuasion by others. At this stage too, anindicated that improved productivity may be achieved by attitude towards the innovation evolves. The third stage isbreeding added value to farm crops and livestock. This decision, when the farmer decides to accept or reject thetype of value adding may include the growing of crop idea. Finally, there is confirmation, in which thecultivars that have reduced pest or disease susceptibility, individual continues to question the wisdom of theirand which, therefore, require less input (in the form of decision once the decision to adopt the innovation hasagricultural chemicals) to produce the same amount of been made. However, it is also useful to recognise latentproduct, resulting in higher productivity and profitability. adoption, which may occur when farmers decide to adoptCampbell (1980) described some of the more notable but are prevented from doing so because of variousexamples of classic innovations and technologies adopted circumstances on the farm (Vanclay 1992a, 1992b).by the Australian farming community (Table 1). Chamala (1987), from a land management Technology transfer is the process of moving perspective, suggested a similar model to explain thescientific and technical knowledge, ideas, services, adoption process, which incorporates the model ofinventions and products from the origin of their Rogers and Shoemaker (1971) and Rogers (1983).
  3. 3. Constraints to the adoption of agricultural and environmental innovations 55 1However, in Chamalas model there are crucial stages may be a novel idea or technology to one farmer may notwhere the potential adopter may discontinue the be to another farmer (Rogers 1983). Thus it would seemadoption process. An example of this discontinuation, or that the stages are also dealt with in an individualdis-adoption, is highlighted in research conducted by manner and-that individual farmers do not reach theCary et al. (1989). These researchers showed that for same stages at the same times.every 2 farmers in northeast Victoria who had The information flow processsuccessfully adopted conservation tillage practices, there Farmers are not a passive part of the technology flowwas 1 farmer who had abandoned it. Those farmers who process; it is the purpose of the extension personnel to helphad given up the practice believed their soil was farmers help themselves. The key agents in this process areunsuitable because with direct drilling, the soil crusted the field staff, who receive support from scientists andover in the top layers. Because fewer wheat seedlings other technical experts in universities and researchbroke through, early growth was poor and yields were institutes. Field staff are in constant contact with farmers,lower. The farmers who experienced these particular particularly the leaders of farming communities. It isproblems believed cultivation was necessary to provide a implicit in the classical adoption-diffusion model thatpermeable seedbed. It is, therefore, not sufficient for contact has to be dynamic, and the flow of informationextension personnel to have simply given information or must be 2-way; that is, from farmers, about whateven created an interest in a new technology - they information they most need, and from institutions wheremust follow through the entire adoption-decision the new technology originates. The 2 parties can thenprocess to ensure that adoption is maintained. interact meaningfully, enabling technology dissemination Goss (1979) has criticised Rogers and Shoemakers to become oriented towards real farm problems (Lee(1971) classical diffusion model on its lack of 1988). Rogers (1983) stated that communication is aapplicability to a cross-cultural context. However, this 2-way process of convergence, rather than 1-way, wherelimitation does not constrain our use of the diffusion one individual seeks to transfer a message to another.theory as a valuable contribution and useful model for Thus he described the convergence model, in which therethe analysis of the adoption of agricultural innovations in is a 2-way flow of information and where participantsAustralia. Other conceptual models of adoption, such as create and share information with one another.that of Sinden and King (1990), vary in their details butmost recognise a multistage decision process, which is The multifactorial problem of technology adoptionthe most important factor in the extrapolation of the From the wide range of studies carried out inclassical model. Participatory action research (PAR), agricultural extension, the problem of non-adoption iscomplements the traditional adoption-diffusion model of multifactorial. For different enterprises and for differentRogers (1983) (Campbell and Junor 1992). This technologies or innovations, different constraints apply.approach to technology development and transfer, and its The individual factors that affect adoption fall into 2significance to extension in Australia in the future, is broad categories. The first puts the emphasis on thedealt with later in this review. Both PAR and the farmer and consists of factors such as personality,classical diffusion approaches are valuable in looking at education level, and degree of motivation. The secondsuch a complex phenomenon as the transfer of emphasises the characteristics of the technology itselfinnovations in agriculture and environmental and the social and economic environment of the farmer,management. Malik (1991), in a review of technology for example, how labour-intensive the new technologytransfer models, argued that none of the approaches to is, or how much it costs. These aspects are discussed inextension individually satisfy all situations in need of the following transfer. Constraints inherent in the farmer and the farm Other limitations of the classical diffusion model have Post World War 2. the needs of farmers tended tobeen described by Vanclay (1992a, 1992b). He indicated focus on practicalities, new technologies and innovationsthat adoption does not necessarily follow the suggested (Campbell 1980; Davidson 1981; Clowes 1990). Thesestages from awareness through to knowledge, trial and needs included the introduction of new animal breeds,then adoption, because it is not always possible to trial new tillage equipment and new crop varieties, tothe new technology. For example, the new technology increase production and productivity. More recently,may be new management plans for the farm, and thus these needs have become more specialised (Clowesrequire adoption in a single step. Vanclay (1992) saw the 1990), focusing on, for example, artificial breeding ofclassical model as assuming that awareness and animals, integrated pest management systems,knowledge will always filter through to all sections of minimum- and zero-tillage approaches to cropping, andthe farming community. However, this is not what the computer management systems.classical model postulates. The classical model argues Not all farmers adopt all the technologicalthat even the concept of innovation is subjective. What innovations related to farm production that are available
  4. 4. 552 L. J. Guerin and T. F. Guerinto them. Farmers tend to select from the package of by the farmer and, therefore, on their adoption ofpractices developed by scientists, those that are innovations (Charnala 1987). These factors include the ageconsistent with their needs, socioeconomic status and of the children, and the number of generations of familyattitudes toward different practices (Chamala 1987). ownership. However, further work is required to determineFarmers have to make many decisions during the the influence of these factors on the rate of adoption.agricultural production cycle, keeping potential problems Sinden and King (1990) studied soil conservationand alternate solutions in view. Some of these decisions measures in Manilla Shire, New South Wales, and notedare for immediate survival, while others are made in 5 variables that differentiated between farmers who had,view of anticipated long-term benefits (Chamala 1987). and farmers who had not, adopted soil conservationThe adoption of commercial innovations for immediate measures. These were farm size, perception of thesurvival and viability, and concerns for the conservation general problem of erosion, pursuit of double cropping,of resources in the long term, are therefore 2 important income and level of education. They found that increasesaspects of management decision-making in Australian in each correlated with the likelihood of adoption. In afarming (Chamala 1987). study reviewed by Campbell and Junor (1992), adopters Itharat (1980) proposed that farmers who are older, of improved or new land management practices hadhave more years of farming experience and who have a higher levels of debt, and farm cash incomes that werelarger amount of land used for agricultural production, higher than average. This suggests that farmers whoare more innovative. An Australian study by Anderson adopt new technologies are more willing to take(1982) has shown that the optimum age of 40-50 years financial risks.correlates well with the progressive farmer. However, Psychological constraints influencing the decisionin a study by Warner (1981) on the adoption of processconservation practices in east-central Illinois, he found Itharat (1980) and Lobel (1987) suggestedthat adopters tended to be relatively young, have farmed predisposing aspects of personality as a key factor infor fewer years and have smaller areas of land. Adopters resistance to adoption. Singh and Ray (1980) found thatof land management practices in Australia were younger better motivated and more intelligent farmers made thethan the mean age of the farmers surveyed in a recent greatest financial progress on their properties. However,study reviewed by Campbell and Junor (1992). From we believe that financial progress is not an adequatethese studies it appears that there is no clear correlation measure of technology adoption. De Klerk (1980) foundbetween farmers age and rate of adoption. They do, that the level of aspiration of the farmer will also influencehowever, suggest that experience may positively the adoption of technology. Farmers attitudes are alsoinfluence the decision to adopt particular practices. important when examining the psychological constraints Chudleigh (1984) indicated that the fact that many on adoption. Some important attitudinal variables thatcrops are grown in locations unsuited to their production have been identified are attitudes of the farmer towards is due to a lack of formal education in the farming farming, expectation of the economic future of farming,community about the fundamentals of crop production perception of the gravity of the problem that the and management. He also suggested that many producers, technology is aiming to address, attitudes toward risk andeither through ignorance or stubbornness, do not use the towards the technology. If an extension officer suggests to extension services provided, or make themselves familiar farmers that a particular technology or agricultural with the requirements of certain crops. Fuglie (1989) technique could improve productivity, yet is unable to found that early adopters tended to be farmers with above- explain how much the technology will cost, how to use it, average education, access to institutional credit and and what benefits can be expected from its use, one canbelow-average farm size. In an Indian study, Sen (1983) predict that conservative attitudes will predominate, and a also found that farmers managing small and medium-sized decision based on avoiding risk will be taken not to adopt properties, were the most innovative. Itharat (1980) found the technology (Jedlicka 1979). that level of education was not a significant factor in the Agriculture nearly always involves a considerable innovativeness of the farmer, nor was land ownership degree of risk, and this may assume major dimensions status or farm income. In his study across 3 Australian when a new practice is being contemplated (Hawkins et states, Anderson (1982) has shown that one characteristic al. 1982). The risk perceived by the primary producer of progressive farmers was the possession of larger about the technology in question is an important factor holdings, with their properties being 22% larger than the in the adoption process (Hawkins et al. 1982; Lobel average farm. In relation to soil conservation practices, it 1987). If a person o r a group of people do not can be inferred that property location and property size understand the nature of the risks involved with a new can affect goal setting, which in turn are positively related venture they may be considering, it is more likely that to the adoption of innovations (Chamala 1987). they will be resistant to change (Jedlicka 1979). People Family factors probably have an effect on the goals set are more likely to take a calculated risk if they
  5. 5. Constraints to the adoption of agricultural and environmental innovations 553understand the circumstances associated with that risk example, in some farmers there seems to exist a learnedand can compare the new alternative with the old helplessness effect where the adoption of technology bytechnology, and consequently determine that the new farmers in the past may not have made any difference toalternative is better (Jedlicka 1979). Ongaro (1988) also their particular farming practices. Thus, farmers haveconfirmed that a perception of risk leading to a farmers learnt that their adoption behaviour does not matter anduncertainty is an important factor in the adoption of that nothing they do makes a difference to the level ofnew technology. Hawkins et al. (1982) also suggested production on their own farms. In addition, resourcesthat it is important to appreciate the pervasiveness of committed to a new enterprise often represent a largerisk in most forms of agriculture, and particularly portion of the farmers cash reserve, and the loss of suchsmall-scale farming. a cash reserve may also inhibit further attempts at Attitudes to risk are subjective and will, therefore, innovation (Hawkins et al. 1982).vary between individuals. Individual farmers typically A farmers attitude to change is one of the mainwill reduce the risk by choosing reliable enterprises for catalysts for the adoption of an innovation (Chamalatheir own particular geographic and climatic location. 1987). Negative attitudes isolate the individual fromVanclay (1992) pointed out that risk is greater for information that is considered inconsistent with beliefs,environmental innovations than for commercial values, and needs. Conversely, positive attitudesinnovations because with both, the risk includes the prompt an individual to seek new ideas andcapital resources expended and the yield for that season. information. Changing ones behaviour is oftenHowever, with environmental innovations, risk also unpleasant and it is often easier to change perceptionincludes the production for future seasons if the and judgement instead (Albrecht et al. 1989). It is wellenvironmental degradation is not stopped. On the other documented that individuals tend to change theirhand, research conducted by Fuglie (1989) found that attitudes so that they become consistent with theirattitudes toward risk taking did not have a significant actions (Mook 1987). Assuming that people have aeffect on the decision to adopt. need for security and a feeling of wellbeing, it is to be Bangura (1983) found that the best predictor of expected that information that creates too muchadoption was the farmers individual goals in farming, uncertainty will not pass through the process ofwhereas a weak relationship was found between farmer perception without some adjustment. Even though amotivation and adoption. Farmer motivation was state of inner tension is necessary for action, only adetermined by the farmers socioeconomic status and certain degree of tension is acceptable or bearable.economic constraints (Bangura 1983). Sinden and King What has been called cognitive dissonance describes (1990) noted that any model of the adoption process must this situation where elements in thinking andinclude the motivations of the farmer. These researchers perception are in conflict and form a state of discordhighlighted the income and capital gains motive in (Mook 1987). Hawkins et al. (1982) also noted thisparticular, and suggested that the stewardship motive of psychological discomfort and unpleasantness ofpassing on to future generations a fully productive inconsistent or unbalanced mental states in relation toresource may also be of importance to many landholders. the adoption of new technologies. Beliefs, values and fears are all factors that affect There are 2 major schools of thought as to the best farmers attitudes. Chamala (1987) defined beliefs as methods to achieve attitude change (Salmon 1981). "the knowledge and information that a person assumes to These are the approaches held by learning theorists andbe true about the environment". Since beliefs underlie cognitive theorists. The latter approach, which is taken attitudes towards various practices, it is expected that by Salmon, suggests examination by the farmer ofparticular practices will be difficult to change. Chamala present attitudes and the ways they might be hindering (1987) defined values as general feelings about what is their goals. Cognitive theories see the farmer as an desirable or undesirable. They give "order and direction active participant in the exploration of their attitudes to the ever-flowing stream of human acts and thoughts7 and subsequent conscious decision making to modify (Chamala 1987). these attitudes. However, with learning theory Lobe1 (1987) suggested that farmers may perceive a approaches, the farmer is viewed as a passive recipient lack of personal control over agricultural production. whose behaviour can be manipulated by skillful control Thus, bad experiences in the past are causing farmers to of the environment (Salmon 1981). Instead, Salmonreject new technology indiscriminately in the present. argued that farmers are basically self-directed learnersWe suggest that this emotional response is akin to the who seek out knowledge which is most relevant to theirpsychological phenomenon of learned helplessness. current needs and problems, and integrate it into their This phenomenon of learned helplessness has played a own frame of reference.major role in the understanding of the most fundamental In order for farmers to adopt new technology, Diallo aspects of behavioural conditioning (Schwarz 1989). For (1983) suggested that farmers need to have an
  6. 6. 554 L. J. Guerin and T. F. Guerinunderstanding of, and belief in, the technology. In officer. The advantage may be expressed in terms ofresearch conducted by Siddaramaiah and Jalihal (1982), economic profitability, safety or security, enhancedfarmers to whom the oral advancers or extension social standing, or of self-esteem (Dixon 1982). In aworkers, had already gone had increased recall and study of the adoption of soil conservation practices,comprehension. However, we maintain that recall and Sinden and King (1990) found that the majorcomprehension is not an adequate measure in evaluating determinant in the final decision to adopt was thewhether or not the technology is adopted. Nevertheless, economic measure of land condition. Two otherDe Klerk (1980) found that perception of the new significant variables were found to be key economictechnology was a precursor to- adoption, followed by factors. These were the annual wheat yield and livestockaspirational level and knowledge, in that order. carrying capacity. The significance of these economic For adoption to occur, it is necessary that farmers variables provided further evidence that the economicadverse attitudes to an innovation change. Once the paradigm is a useful model of farmer behaviour (Sindeninnovation is perceived as profitable, appropriate, having and King 1990).an acceptable level of risk, being compatible with the The initial and sustaining cost of a technology isfarmers goals, and being easily integrated into existing another important aspect affecting its adoption. Thefarm practices, then the innovation will be adopted farmer must be able to see the financial benefits ofrelatively quickly (Barr and Cary 1992b). making the adoption in addition to the long-term benefitsThe social and economic etzvironment of maintaining productivity (Chamala 1987). An Opinion leaders are thought to have an important example of such long-term benefits has beeninfluence on the adoption process (Sethu-Rao and demonstrated by the adoption of innovations in landBhaskaran 1978; Rogers 1983). They uphold or create management in the Land Care program (Chamala andnew norms in a communitv which influence the behaviour Mortiss 1990; Campbell and Junor 1992). It is also likelyof farmers. It was observed in some farming communities that adoption will not occur if a big gain is not expectedthat there was a spoked-wheel type of interaction, with by the farmer. Presumably a large gain is needed tomany farmers going to a few leading farmers for compensate for the risk involved. The technologyinformation and advice. This phenomenon is not negative; developed may be shown to provide a certain minimumrather, it should be hamessed and used to the advantage of level of improvement in productivity; however, it mustscientists in promoting their message. However, leaders, be seen to be a substantial improvement by the farmerno matter how innovative they are personally, are unlikely (Cary et al. 1989). In a study of conservation cropping into favour innovations that threaten their roles as leaders northern Victoria, a steady increase in the use of direct(Dixon 1982). If this were the case, one would reach a drilling and minimum-tillage cropping during the 1980sstalemate and these opinion leaders would become a was reported by Cary et al. (1989). The key advantageliability. It is important for extension personnel to locate which convinced farmers to bring these innovations intoopinion leaders and gain their approval and confidence by practice was the lower crop-growing costs, which wereproviding them with information on new technologies. In clearly demonstrated in terms of savings of time and fuelAustralia, it is possible that opinion leaders play a (Ewers 1990). Although improved soil structure resultssignificant role in encouraging the adoption of appropriate in higher yields, this has not led to increases in adoption.technologies among farming communities. In an yield increases may need to be converted to profit orAustralian study, Anderson (1982) described innovators, income increases before adoption is secured. Manyor those who were quick to adopt new technologies, as farmers are now being forced to reappraise theprogressive farmers. It is likely that these farmers are traditional systems of conventional cultivation due to theinfluencial in encouraging other farmers to adopt. high costs of equipment and fuel, and the increasing costHowever, from a study of Queensland farmers by Tully and scarcity of labour (Corbin and Pratley 1984). This(1966), the progressive farmers were shown to have no could, however, be offset by higher chemical costs withpositive influence on the rate of adoption by other farmers the adoption of reduced tillage that same community. Further research is required to Arcia (1980) suggested that the adoption of newdetermine the role of leadership in rural communities in technologies should incorporate available informationadoption, and to ascertain whether progressive farmers are about farming systems and the circumstances in whichopinion leaders. the farmer or farming system is operating. Even Farmers will consider a new idea in the light of its technologies that are supported by extensive researchadvantages and perceived benefits. These advantages and development may not successfully transfer, usuallywill be considered relative to those of the practice it because the socioeconomic setting in which the problemreplaces. The adopters perception of an innovation may is embedded has not been taken into account (Russell etbe influenced by various factors, including their social or al. 1989; Bawden and Macadam 1991). Bangura (1983)economic position and the message of the extension suggested that farmers individual characteristics and
  7. 7. Constraints to the adoption of agricultural and environmental innovations 555their economic limitations need to be considered by The so called micro-level factors are those aspectsplanners of agricultural development programs. The associated with socio-psychological variables andadoption of new technology may also cause existing information equipment to become obsolete before the end of its Ben-Achour (1988) suggested that there is a positiveuseful life (Swindale 1979). Not all technology-based relationship between the availability of family labourinnovations, however, have a financial cost. In some and the adoption of a new technology. However, this isinstances there may be a direct saving of expenditure unlikely to be the case in Australia, where the labourwith no initial output of resources. resource has traditionally been scarce (Campbell 1980; Allowance should also be made for socioeconomic Davidson 1981). Further evidence is required tovariables associated with risk and uncertainty in the determine whether this is still the of new farming technologies (Ongaro 1988). The Constraints inherent in the irinovationrelationship between socioeconomic status and innovation Rogers (1983) describes 5 aspects of innovations.has generally been depicted as positive and linear (Gartrell These are its relative advantage, compatibility withet al. 1973). These findings have also been supported by a existing innovations, trialability, observability, andSouth American study, where low-income farmers were con~plexity.If a new innovation is complex and its costfound to be more risk-averse (Arcia 1980). and expected returns are difficult to identify, and the Bangura (1983) found that farmers prefer to adopt adoption challenges the farmers belief, then thethose innovations that satisfy their security needs, are less communication from researcher to extension officer tocomplex, require less time to use and are less labour- farmer is less likely to lead to adoption. In analysing thedemanding. Innovations that are simple and relatively constraints to adoption that are inherent in the innovationeasy to understand are more likely to be adopted than itself, there are 2 major types of innovations. These arethose that are complex. These simple innovations include commercial and environmental innovations (Chamalarecommendations to change crop cultivars or to use a 1987; Vanclay 1992a, 1992b). Commercial innovationsnew chemical (Martin et al. 1988). These can be are designed to increase productivity in a relatively shortcommunicated easily and in a short time (Dixon 1982; time and have immediately visible effects. These appealVanclay 1992a, 1992b). Although it appears that the to farmers who wish to increase returns, reduce labourmore complex the innovation, the greater the resistance to input or increase social status. Environmental innovationsits adoption (Vanclay 1992a, 1992b), Cary (1992) are designed to protect the environment and maintainproposed that these complex or difficult practices may long-term productivity, for example, conservation tillagestill be adopted, but their rate of adoption will be slow. practices and integrated pest management (Chamala The individual is less likely to be innovative in an 1987), and advice to use chemicals in a particular way.environment which does not favour change, even if the Discussion by Cary (1992) of the adoption of landindividual does. If one was to go outside the social conservation practices has revealed that the majorboundaries, one would risk being considered a social determinants affecting the adoption of a soil conservationdeviant and at the mercy of social sanctions (Dixon practice are the attributes of the practice itself. A case in 1982). Tully (1966) demonstrated this problem where 2 point is that there is little evidence that beliefs about soilearly adopters became isolated from a larger farming salinity control alone influence the rate of pasturecommunity that contained 34 farmers in total. These sowing, independently of expectations about thefarmers lost their influence among the larger community profitability of this innovation (Barr and Cary 19926).of dairy farmers, as they were considered to have Another example is the adoption of new wheat varietiesdeviated too far from the group norms. These 2 farmers by farmers in the northern wheat belt of New Southhad adopted improved pastures on their farms for 15 Wales (Martin et al. 1988). In their survey, conductedyears before the rest of the farming group, and their between 1983 and 1985, Martin et al. (1988) showed thatlevels of income were 3 times higher than the average the wheat cultivars that were grown corresponded closelyincome on the farms of that region. Despite their higher to those recommended by the New South Walesproductivity, they had very little impact on the rest of the Department of Agriculture. Only 1 case of growth of thefarming community in securing adoption. non-recommended cultivar, Osprey, was encountered Chamala (1987) suggested that the attitudes of among the 50 farms studied. Bardsley (1982) indicatedfarmers towards the methods used in agricultural that the reasons farmers do not adopt newlyproduction are influenced by macro- and micro-level recommended wheat varieties are that they are offered nofactors. Macro-level factors include government policies clear improvement over those existing varieties, and that such as legislation, taxation policies, subsidies, they may have strong ties with the existing variety. In theavailability of lower-interest capital, cross-compliance, survey by Martin e t a l . (1988), the herbicide cost-sharing, import duties, demand for food, prices at chlorsulfuron was also quickly adopted. This studythe international level and foreign exchange fluctuations. showed that the innovations were readily adopted
  8. 8. 556 L. J. Guerin and T. F. Guerinbecause of their clear advantages over existing practices, tablelands cannot obtain enough seed of thetheir compatibility with other practices on the farm, their recommended varieties and often have to sow grainhigh degree of observability and low degree of only oats which do not produce autumn or winter feedcomplexity. These attributes are characteristic of for grazing (Duncan 1983). This non-adoption ofinnovations that are readily adopted (Cary 1992; Vanclay recommended, dual-purpose varieties may have also 1992a, 19923). On the other hand, adoption of limited the production of fat lambs in these regionsnitrogenous fertiliser use has been slow, considering that (Spurway 1975; Archer and Swain 1977).widespread deficiencies in the soils of the region have Not all innovations developed by scientists and otherbeen known for almost 40 years (Martin et al. 1988). This technology developers are relevant to all farmingslow adoption of nitrogenous fertilisers may have systems (Audirac and Beaulieu 1986). These researchersoccurred because of cost and a low and variable argued that technology adoption is influenced by factorscorrelation between the soil nitrate test at sowing and called access conditions and that potential adoptersgrain yield at harvest (Martin et al. 1988). Also in this respond more to these than they do to attitudinalstudy, the estimated area of wheat stubble that was burnt variables. Access conditions are intrinsic in thein northern New South Wales in 1985 was 227 000 ha. technology itself, and include factors such as howThere has been a significant reduction in stubble burning knowledge-demanding and how labour-saving theover the past 40 years. However, tillage practices have technology is. The access conditions also consist ofchanged to a lesser extent over the same period, with distributional characteristics of the innovation, such asminimum tillage and no-tillage direct drilling occurring whether it is promoted through publicly fundedon 14 and 1% of farms in the study, respectively. In extension or by commercial franchising. Traditionally incontrast to the results of the study by Cary et al. (1989) Australia, much of this promotion has been conducted byon the adoption of conservation practices in northern district agronomists from State Departments ofVictoria, this level of adoption is relatively low. The key Agriculture (Campbell 1980). However, in recent timesadvantage that convinced farmers to bring these with reduced government funding, this service hasinnovations into practice was the lower crop-growing become less common. Commercial organisations,costs, which were clearly demonstrated in savings in time including rural retailers and agricultural consultants,and fuel (Cary et a l . 1989; Ewers 1990). Thus the have supplemented this service to a large extent (Wylienorthern New South Wales wheat-belt farmers studied by 1992). In fact, rural retailers have siezed on this need ofMartin et al. (1988) may require further convincing of the farmers, turning it into an opportunity to add value to thefinancial benefits of conservation tillage practices if products they sell (B. Guerin, pers. comm.).greater rates of adoption are to be achieved. Sound advice can fall on deaf ears if the farmers As demonstrated by Martin et al. (1988), there are being addressed have no awareness of the problem.usually no problems in securing the adoption of new Extension officers may have a difficult task thatvarieties of wheat, a crop which is bred purely for grain. demands a good deal of patience, and this involves firstA very different picture is presented by the oat crop. creating an awareness of problems in the target group. InAlthough this crop can produce very high dry matter many cases, however, the farmers have well foundedyields during the winter without decreasing the overall reasons for rejecting an innovation (Vanclay 1992a,state average grain yield of 1.38 t/ha, widespread 1992b) and the adviser must examine these in detail toadoption of recommended varieties is still low (Guerin appreciate the reasons for its rejection (Albrecht et al.and Guerin 1993). Methods of oat crop management 1989). There is another problem of relevance in thissuitable for most farm situations have been carried out regard. Discrepancies between experimental farm yieldson New South Wales government research stations for and those found on most farms, for many crops and overwell over the 34-year period recorded (Guerin and many years, are a likely reason for farmers deciding notGuerin 1992~). The major constraints to the adoption of to grow a new crop cultivar. Davidson and Martin (1965)recommended oat varieties in New South Wales are the and Davidson et al. (1967) have provided some evidencescarcity of seed of the recommended varieties and a for this for wheat in Western Australia and Victoria. Inpreconception of what a good oat variety looks like. In unfavourable years, the average yield of commercialmany parts of the wheatbelt, the grain only varieties, crops is approximately equal to experimental yields. Inoften from Western Australia, are killed off by frost and years favourable to the crop, both farm and experimentalclose grazing by sheep. Registered oat seed growers in yields increase, but experimental yields increase at athe wheat-growing areas further increase the already greater rate. Apparent exceptions to this are sugar yieldsplentiful supply of these grain only varieties, as well as in Queensland and rice in the MIA.mid-season varieties, neither of which have been bred The results of some research are simple and easilywith dual-purpose characteristics. Farmers of the observed, and are therefore easier to communicate topotentially high-yielding soils of the slopes and farmers. Innovations with a high degree of observability
  9. 9. Constraints to the adoption of agricultural and environmental innovations 557are more likely to be adopted (Dixon 1982). Warner addressed (Anderson 1981). They can, therefore, be a(1981) also proposed that a lack of observability of results great help in extension work because they enable thewill hinder the adoption of technology. However, it should individual adviser to operate more effectively. They alsob e remembered that some innovations do not lend provide a way of making it easier for the target group orthemselves to easy communication and sometimes the individual farmer to absorb information. For a review ofinformation packages are too complex. These are some of extension aids, the reader is referred to Mortiss (1988)the most common reasons for non-adoption (Chamala and Albrecht et al. (1989). Some of the main methods1987). This should not be a problem, however, if the are described in the following paragraphs.information is prepared by professional communicators. Methods of communication that were traditionallyLack of observability of the results of new technology has used in Australian agriculture were word of mouth, printbeen shown to limit the motivation of some farmers and postal media (Milne 1992). These methods were(Warner 1981). Demonstrations of new technologies, slow and were often limited as to their geographicalhowever, can greatly improve their observability. destinations. With more sophisticated, electronicDemonstrations can take the form of field days, on-farm communications, information access is becoming lessdemonstrations, or visits to other farmers who have significant as a constraint to the adoption of technology.successfully adopted a particular technology. The The telephone, while providing farmers with immediateformation of participatory groups in the Australian Land information regarding a problem, has its limitations.Care program has closely involved the land-using Even though the cost of long-distance telephone calls hascommunity and has helped understand the need to prevent decreased, it can still intimidate many people. Also,and overcome problems of land degradation (Campbell telephone communication depends on the person who isand Junor 1992). This approach of establishing land-user being called to be available; unavailability may lead togroups, has worked well in promoting change in land the telephone tag syndrome of 2 people continuallymanagement practices (Chamala and Mortiss 1990; trying to return calls, but never making contact (Hawkins et al. 1992). Some of the main forms of electronicCampbell and Junor 1992). This is being achieved through communications are electronic databases and on-lineorganised tours in which farmers to travel to on-site retrieval systems, electronic mail, electronic bulletindemonstrations, and through active participation in land- boards, and electronic conferences (Milne 1992).user discussion groups. This approach is being further Farmers need continual access to information. Moreaddressed in projects to develop self-mustering systems experienced farmers may need specialised information,for sheep (ODempsey 1992), improve wool production while farmers operating a diversified farming systemfrom pasture (Wilson 1992) and increase the adoption of may need a complex mix of information (Lee 1988).herbicide-based fallows (Cox 1992). The outcomes from Electronic networks are proving successful in thethese studies should prove useful in evaluations of the transfer of research that is relevant to Australian farmers.effectiveness of this approach to extension. LandcareNET, an electronic network for Land Care Swindale (1979) suggests that technology that can be groups across Australia, is an example (Hawkins et al.readily transferred from the research environment, and 1992). This system has become significant in technologywhich is appropriate for the farmers needs, may not be adoption by both disseminating useful knowledge thataccepted by the farmer because it is not understood. This already exists, and providing research findings as theyis the case especially for complex technology that are required. This latter aspect is of considerable value asevolves from multidisciplinary efforts. It has been it should help reduce the problem of informationinferred that scientists are generally better at analysis overload to primary producers.than synthesis, and thus that the process of recapturing The results of a recent survey conducted on thetechnology from its principles can be difficult for the 1andcareNET system to determine the interest areas offarmer (Swindale 1979). Therefore, new technology may the network users were reported by Hawkins et al.prove inappropriate if the information gathered about (1992). Six issues were found to be of interest to 20% orfarmers needs and resources is inapplicable or more of the users surveyed. These issues were: salinity,inaccurate (Swindale 1979). erosion and acidity of soil, planning for whole farms andThe role of communication in the adoption process catchment areas, and education programs. This system An important aspect in the adoption process is the has improved the interaction between land users,identification and proper use of appropriate extension personnel, and technology developers. Thecommunication (Blum 1987). For example, it is unlikely implementation of LandcareNET has thereforethat the use of media in agricultural extension can complemented the traditional approach to extension inreplace personal contact between extension workers and land management. By determining the gaps in farmerstarget groups or individual farmers. Media may make knowledge, through the use of surveys on the computerthis work easier and broaden the range of people network, extension personnel can focus their time spent in personal contact clarifying farmers needs.
  10. 10. 558 L. J. Guerin and T. F. Guerin Improved access to information for farmers and the scientist to the farmer. It is likely that if thisextension personnel may assist the agricultural industry communication is not effective, then technologyto gain a competitive advantage by reducing costs, adoption will be limited. The following paragraphsincreasing the rate of adoption of innovative describe some of the issues where scientists directlytechnologies and methodologies, and providing support influence the adoption of the technologies they for the proper integration of new innovations. A Pickering (1992) defined many of the constraints onrecent conference in Australia has further addressed the scientists in communicating their findings to the press.issue of information technology and reported a number One that is of particular importance in the transfer ofof useful applications in the agricultural extension arena technology to primary producers is the lack of training(Cuddy 1992; Gillard 1992; Hawkins and Rimmington and familiarity that many journalists have with1992; Stapper 1992a). agricultural science and related technologies. Pickering (1992), who claimed that few journalists have studiedThe role of the media and the rural press The effectiveness of providing information about new any science since high school, suggested that there maytechnologies to farmers-depends largely on the medium be difficulties in persuading some journalists to write onused. Where there is no extension officer or other skilled technical or scientific topics. Furthermore, he indicatedindividual or group to provide the necessary information, that this may also mean that when interviewingradio, television and printed media will be important. scientists, they will often pretend to understand materialRadios effectiveness lies in its immediacy for conveying that actually confuses them.information. Television has the advantage of stimulating Journalists are also restricted in what they write bythe farmer audience through the combination of pictures their audience. Thus even if they do understand theand words (Clowes 1990). complex issues themselves, they are restricted to writing Printed media allow the farmer to deal with issues in in general terms for a wide audience. It is thereforemore detail. The permanency of printed media enables important for scientists and other technology developersfarmers to refer back to specific points, thus allowing to limit the volume and complexity of material presentedthem to gain a greater understanding of the innovation to journalists writing articles for the rural audience, and(Clowes 1990). The most important printed media for to present it clearly. Pickering (1992) believed that theconveying information are the rural press and State most important constraints in the communication processDepartments of Agriculture publications. Anderson are those that are imposed by the methodology of the(1981) has reported that advice from extension personnel scientists or that arise from their perceptions of howis only 1 source of information among many used by scientific information should be disseminated, or whatfarmers in decision making. Ratings of the importance of they may need to do to achieve professional recognition.information sources showed that farmers regarded other Scientists have often been criticised for lacking thefarmers as the most important source (85%); the second skills necessary for the implementation of theirwas reading (excluding state Department of Agriculture technological innovations. They tend to rely on thePublications) (78%). Third was state Department of written word for their information and subsequentAgriculture publications (60%). In this study, advisers dissemination of their findings. Farmers, on the otherwere rated sixth (59%). hand, rely mostly on visual and verbal messages in Rural newspapers, journals and magazines are the acquiring knowledge (Hanlon 1989; Pickering 1992).specific means whereby farmers find out about new Scientists often assume that the gap between themselvestechnologies, including recommendations for new crop and farmers will be automatically filled by the farmers orand pasture cultivars. In New South Wales the supply of extension personnel (Pickering 1992). Farmers are oftenmuch of this technical material has traditionally been the expected to be able to fully understand the variousrole of the State Department of Agriculture, through the aspects of the new technology, and interpret complexregular publication of technical mailouts, which almost agronomic interactions which can be different fromall farmers received. The rural press has communicated those associated with the previous technology that maysome of this important information throughout Australia have been employed (Hanlon 1989). Effective researchin weekly tabloids and specialised journals. In 1991 should, therefore, include a communication or extensionthere were at least 43 specialised serials available to process which starts at the design stage of the research,farmers in Australia, covering all the major areas of that is, by making sure that farmers want to know theagricultural practice (Cribb 1991). results in the first place. The researcher does not have to do all theRole of the scientist in the adoption of technology communicating. A research team may have specialist Effective communication between scientists and communicators (or extension staffj, but should not havefarmers is a prerequisite for effective knowledge flow so many as to break what should be strong 2-way(Pickering 1992; Gray 1993). This can be achieved communication links between researchers and farmersthrough the use of extension personnel or directly from
  11. 11. Constraints to the adoption of agricultural and environmental innovations 559(Wylie 1992). Farmers often take an interest in specialist Limited adoption of agronomic research has beenadvice when it is made directly available to them. This is caused, at least in part, by presentation of researchevident when scientists are given the chance to discuss findings in a general form which is not paddock- andparticular aspects of their own work directly with season-specific, and which is often difficult to integratefarmers. Thus 1 role of the scientist is to encourage into other management practices (Stapper 1992b). It isfarmers to ask questions of themselves about the day-to- likely that farmers tend to localise their knowledge ofday tasks they conduct. If farmers could be encouraged farming operations, while researchers tend to generaliseto ask more questions about their own farming practice, their knowledge for dissemination. Current research istheir understanding of the task would increase and their developing interactive, computer-based systems to assistawareness of the need for technology adoption might be producers and advisers in the optimal economicincreased, where this is appropriate. Scientists too could management of crops. This work includes specificbe encouraged to ask questions of the farmer. information on fertiliser management, variety and Not only can there be a breakdown in communication sowing date choice, choice of rotations, disease andbetween technology developers and users, but the same weed control, and fallowing (Stapper 1992b).may occur between the technology developers and the When scientists conduct their research, they also needextension personnel. In some instances, a negative to keep in mind the criteria which make particularattitude has been shown to exist between research enterprises successful in Australian agriculturescientists and extension personnel, which in turn causes (Davidson 1981). First, the resulting innovation mustinfrequent communication between the 2 (Ojiambo have a low labour requirement for its implementation, as 1989). Wylie (1992) has indicated that in Australia, this the labour resource in Australia has traditionally beenbreakdown in communication between extension scarce and is now costly. Second, it must be focused onpersonnel and scientists may be the cause of research producing a product for an export market since the localfindings remaining unused. There is also a tendency for market is quickly satisfied. Third, it must benefit anscientists to disseminate their research findings in highly enterprise that makes use of relatively large land areas.specialised scientific journals in a manner that helps Fourth, it should also benefit an enterprise that producesthem to command respect from other scientists, thereby a product that is easily transported to its export market.helping the scientists to become established in their own There is no point expecting that a new, high-yieldingfields. The disadvantage is that scientists are likely to crop or animal breed will be adopted in any sustainableplace less emphasis on publishing in extension-type manner if it requires 2 or 3 times more labour input tojournals, and as a result the farmer is unlikely to be produce the higher gains. Thus for an innovation to betargeted in the reader audience (Pickering 1992). successfully adopted into Australian farming practice, it To ensure effective adoption, scientists and other should fulfil Davidsons criteria and the technologytechnology developers need to acquire information about developer should be aware of these.agricultural practices on farms. This may be obtained Every component of the farming system is influencedusing both formal and informal sources. According to by climate and weather, so it is very important that aOjiambo (1989), personal communication with consideration of climate be incorporated into agriculturalimmediate colleagues is the most frequently used source. research. This is particularly the case in AustralianAgricultural scientific literature and farmers themselves agriculture where climate, even within a state, can varyare also considered as important in decision making and quite dramatically (Kelleher 1984). Climaticproblem solving (Ojiambo 1989). Technology considerations are especially important to those who aredevelopers should consider how their innovations will be breeding new crops and pastures. One example of this isperceived by the farmer and whether they are likely to be the breeding of oat varieties in northern New South Wales,successful in improving productivity when implementing where the summer rainfall climate has been suitable forthese under Australian conditions (Lawrence 1992). the selection of frost-resistant, dual-purpose cultivars for aScientists, therefore, need to understand problems with wide range of climates (Vertigan 1979; Craig and Potterexisting technology in the farming operation in order to 1983; McLeod et al. 1985; Simmons 1989; Smith 1990;develop effective new technology. Clunies-Ross (1990) Guerin and Guerin 199227;Guerin and Guerin 1993).has suggested that adoption is more likely to occur Thus, there are several important constraints to thewhere there is a problem with existing technology than adoption of technology that are influenced directly byas the result of new scientific findings. Conservation scientists. These should be taken into consideration bytillage is a case in point. Diallo (1983) showed that the extension planners when developing extension programs.most important reason for adopting no-till practices was The role of extension personnelsoil conservation, followed by energy and time savings. The role of extension personnel in the transfer ofThe tangible benefits to the farmer were observed as a technology in Australian agriculture has been pivotal inreduction in soil erosion and fuel expenses. achieving the high levels of adoption of many important
  12. 12. 560 L. J. Guerin and T. F. Guerininnovations (Campbell 1980). Extension officers must Despite their dis-adoption, they still believed that theunderstand all aspects of the technology in order to advantages of the technology outweighed thecommunicate effectively to the farmer. But prior to this, the disadvantages, but not on their own farms. The linkextension officer must explore and understand the farmers between soil conservation attitudes and farmneeds first and foremost, to determine what is relevant management behaviour was weak. This indicates thetechnology for the particular situation. It is only then that need for extension personnel to focus on solvingthe farmer can be expected to adopt the technology. technical problems associated with the implementation In Carys (1992) discussion of the adoption of soil of conservation tillage technology, as well as onconservation practices in Australia, he showed that very changing attitudes and awareness of soil degradation.few farmers believed that direct drilling would give Other examples of where there is a weak link betweenincreased yields, despite the widespread belief by soil conservation attitudes and farm managementfarmers that it improved soil structure. He has also behaviour have been observed in farmers beliefs aboutpointed out that while many farmers were aware of soil agricultural chemicals and the adoption of the practice ofcompaction on their farms, those who saw soil stubble retention on cropping farms (Cary 1992). Carycompaction or crusting on their farm were no more (1992) suggested that there is little benefit in attemptinglikely to direct drill than farmers who believed they had to change the negative attitudes of the non-adopters untilneither problem on their farm. This is an example where technical problems experienced by those who havethe help of extension personnel was vital in enabling the adopted and rejected conservation tillage practices arefarmer to make the connection in understanding between solved. The ramifications of this example are likely to behigher yields and conservation tillage practices. significant for the adoption of agricultural technologies Koons (1987) observed that a valuable message may and innovations other than those recommended in thenot always be communicated, even if the extension area of land management.personnel are knowledgeable and the farmers are Jameel (1988) pointed out that 2 fundamental aspectsre-ceptive. Thus basic scientific knowledge does not of the promotion of agricultural knowledge flows are necessarily reach the rural community. A case in point is farmer training and field support. The training of farmerscropping enterprises, where dramatic improvements in followed by back-up support to facilitate the application agricultural productivity can be achieved by introducing of newly acquired knowledge and skills is essential. simple, low-cost practices such as changing to a new Cary (1992) also emphasised this need for back-up variety that responds better to the prevailing conditions on support for the successful adoption and retention of soil the farm than a previously recommended variety (Blum conservation practices. Thus, extension officers must 1987). If these simple messages are not conveyed clearly keep up to date with the latest developments in to the farmer, easily accessible gains will not be realised. technology that are relevant to their farming community. Wylie (1992) argued that extension personnel are not The training of extension personnel is vital, through always needed since innovative farmers have direct formal courses or conferences, or less formally through contact with researchers, have research trials on their reading of scientific and technical literature, o r properties and quickly put research into practice where it discussions with scientists directly. is of demonstrable value to them. However, we suggest Bias and role conflict can disrupt the that this is an extreme and rare situation and that most extension-farmer relationship and therefore the farmers, even if relatively innovative, are not of this sort. extension work. This danger, highlighted by Ben-Achour Some farmers may believe they are performing their (1988), concerns the issue that technology developers routine farming tasks correctly but cannot see that the and extension personnel can sometimes adopt an elitist task could be made more efficient by adopting a attitude and treat farmers with contempt. Although such particular technology. These farmers are unlikely to ask a situation has not been documented in Australia, it for the help of extension officers. It may be that other needs to be considered as a potential constraint. forms of information will be significant in this situation, Extension personnel must also understand the economic such as the media and contact with farmer leaders. Some issues relating to the farmer. The extension officers work fanners will continue to base their adoption decisions on with people, and therefore must be able to relate to them. traditional beliefs and social criteria. Information on They must be able to understand their problems and matters such as crop prices, fertiliser availability or needs, and know how to communicate technical irrigation schedules can efficiently be passed on through information in a way that is understood and seen to be mass media, whereas attempts to impart skills or to meaningful (Anderson 1982). persuade require a more personal involvement by In Rogerss model (Rogers 1983), the extension extension personnel (World Bank 1990). worker is very much the mediator with regard to the Cary (1992) observed that many farmers who had communication of technology. Extension workers are abandoned the adoption of direct-drilling practices kept a seldom responsible for developing the technology and positive attitude towards that particular technology.
  13. 13. Constraints to the adoption of agricultural and environmental innovations 561may not even use it in their own work, but they must be Table 2. Farmers perceptions of attributes that make extensioncapable of interpreting the complexities of scientific personnel credibleAjargon in terms familiar to their farmer clients. To work Maintain a practical approach to problem solvingsuccessfully with farmers, they must respect farmers Make recommendations that are feasible in economic, technical andskills and knowledge, and work hard to adjust to the social contextfarmers situation rather than expecting the farmer always Make recommendations visible to the farmerto look up to them (Hawkins et nl. 1982). Extension Have experience in the application of new practices on farmspersonnel must have an empathy with the farmers they Be well informed on the latest developments in agricultureare designated to assist (Anderson 1982). An effectiveextension officer will help not only to change and Have an overall knowledge of agricultureincrease rates of adoption of new technologies, but also Know the trends within industries in agricultureto reinforce those current practices of the farmer that are Be accessible to the farmeralso beneficial (Albrecht et al. 1989). Be unbiased, honest, trustworthy and reliable Extension officers need to have credibility with the Maintain confidentialityfarmers and must have technical competence. Empathise with farmers and their needsDeveloping credibility with farmers is claimed to be the Understand and work within the social rules of the farming single most important influence on the success of community advisory services and individual extension personnel (Anon. 1988). When this is achieved, extension A Modified from Anon. (1988). personnel are able to transfer technology and secure adoption at a considerably higher level. Table 2 identifies some of these criteria for credibility as perceived by farmers in New South Wales. and horticultural extension officers. Different Computerised expert systems show potential for administrative arrangements are followed in different improving the quality and efficiency of agricultural states. In Victoria and Western Australia, the extension extension services by making vital expertise available to services have been staffed principally by university extension workers when and where it is needed. These graduates, whereas in New South Wales, large numbers expert systems can provide solutions for many current of graduates of agricultural colleges have been employed extension problems such as delayed decision time, which (Campbell 1980). When staff of different educational can be costly to farmers. They can also provide solutions backgrounds are employed in the same establishment, to the problem of extension workers being bombarded there may be friction within the service (Campbell 1980) with increasing amounts of information. Assisted by which may limit the effectiveness of extension activities. computer systems, extension personnel can solve problems that are out of their areas of specialisation. Lack of human resources is another problem addressed Many extension officers are funded by the government. However, this government service has decreased as fewer . funds have become available. It is gradually being by computer expert systems becauie Departments of replaced to some extent by user-pays services and cost- Agriculture can rarely afford to employ a full range of recovery procedures (Cummins 1991; Frank and Chamala experts (Pasqual 1988; Volum 1988). 1992; Vanclay 1992b). This means that only farmers who Hawkins et al. (1982) showed that interpersonal or request help are likely to be visited by extension face-to-face communication generally was more personnel. However, private sector involven~entin effective than mass media for bringing about attitude advisory services has increased several fold in recent change. Similarly, Underwood (1984) showed, in a study years to the stage where, in some rural districts, there are of 153 Queensland dairy farmers, that the most preferred more private sector advisers than those employed by the method for acquiring information about a new government. The largest group of private sector extension technology was through face-to-face private discussions personnel includes advisers employed by retailers of rural with people they knew. Mass communication should not merchandise, who provide a range of products and be regarded as a substitute for interpersonal services to farmers (Wylie 1992). A further example of communication but is complementary to it (Hawkins et this change has been found in the Darling Downs region al. 1982). Rhoades (1990b) asserted that interpersonal of Queensland. The number of professional advisory staff communication is crucial for the adoption of technology employed outside the government has increased over the and that there is no substitute for it. last 15 years from about 10 to more than 60. At the same Government advisory services in Australia are time, the number of government extension advisers centred on state Departments of Agriculture. These (agronomists, livestock advisers and economists, but services are mediated predominantly along commodity excluding soil conservationists) has declined from more lines, for example by sheep and wool extension officers than 20 to 16 (Wylie 1992).
  14. 14. 562 L. J. Guerin and T. F. Guerin Private agricultural consultants have complemented necessarily what they do, and that the results obtained aregovernment personnel in extension in Australia. The culturally and time bound and the context of a particularformer first appeared in Australia in the late 1950s when farm activity is not revealed. The person asking thegroups of farmers formed farm management clubs and questions introduces a bias, since deference and untrueemployed their own advisers. These clubs originated as a answers may be given. These criticisms are based on caseresult of farmers dissatisfaction with the services then studies conducted in developing countries (Rhoadesprovided by the state Departments of Agriculture 1990b), therefore there are cross-cultural barriers to the(Patterson 1978). The club adviser was recognised as interpretation of these studies in terms of agriculturalone who dealt with the whole farm on a management, as extension in Australia. Rhoades (1990b) describes thewell as a technical, basis. Patterson (1978) conducted a necessity for a greater diversity of methods to be appliedsurvey of all consultants known to have practised in in extension research. all of which should be based onAustralia, as well as a survey of a sample of farmers greater farmer participation and empowerment. Thefrom areas of Victoria and New South Wales serviced by success of this approach has been described by Chambersconsultants. This study revealed that 13% of the farmers et al. (1989) and its recommendations and applicability toin these areas had paid for professional farm Australian agriculture have been reported and discussedmanagement advice. These farmers-tended to be larger- by Russell et al. (1989).scale operators with multi-enterprise properties. As a A few projects are specifically addressing the issue ofresult of farmers declining demand for consultants extension through the training of extension personnel inservices, consultants have to a large extent diversified the use of computer models (Dumsday 1992; Vickerytheir activities into overseas consulting and/or 1992; Young 1992) and in the use of field manualsinstitutional and business consulting (Patterson 1978). (Daniels et al. 1992). Some research programs are Farmers require specialised advice to maintain high examining the effectiveness of participatory approachesproductivity. Advice is becoming less available because in land management extension. One of these programsof reductions in government funding, and many farmers involves the farmers in the decision-making processcan no longer afford to pay for consulting services. through action learning on small localised demonstrationTherefore, other sources of advice about new sites before transferring conservation cropping techniquestechnologies and innovations are likely to become to a larger scale. It has also involved bus tours for farmersincreasingly important. to travel to these demonstration sites, farmer groupMethodologies in extension research discussions and the dissemination of brochures and The traditional methods of conducting agricultural newsletters written specifically for farmers (Harveyextension research have included the use of 1992). A similar approach is being used by Woog andquestionnaires, on-farm trials and demonstrations, farm Kelleher (1992) to determine the constraints to thebudgets and cost-benefit analyses, yield extrapolations adoption of new technologies by a number of New South Wales and Victorian dairy farmers.from experiment stations, field days, informal farm visitsand formal interviews. The most common method has The interaction between farmers and scientistsbeen the use of questionnaires. The adoption or non- Participatory action research (PAR) and its variantsadoption of a particular innovation was correlated with a (the farmer-first, the bottom-up and the land user drivenwide range of variables such as age, level of education and approaches) have been suggested as improvedsocioeconomic status, and constraints are then identified approaches for the adoption of innovations (Chambersfrom the significant correlations found (Rogers 1983). et al. 1989; Russell et al. 1989; Chamala 1990; Lockie The benefits of the questionnaire approach are that and Wilson 1990; Rhoades 1990a, 1990b; Macadam andlarge numbers of farmers can be surveyed, and statistical Bawden 1991; Whyte 1991; Campbell and Junor 1992).analysis can be performed on quantitative data for the PAR involves farmers in the research process from thetesting of various hypotheses. From these analyses, initial design of the project, through data gathering andgeneralisations can be made as to the reasons for non- analysis, to final conclusions and the development ofadoption. Data collected in the questionnaires are often recommendations arising from the research. In thissubstantiated or complemented with informal or formal approach, groups of farmers, extension personnel andinterviews on the farm. Extension personnel then use this scientists work closely to achieve the needs of theinformation to focus on the likely problems limiting farmers. This approach recognises that scientists are in aadoption. The success of this approach has been potentially strong position to demonstrate the benefits ofdocumented in the vast number of empirical studies adopting because of their intimate knowledge of thereviewed by Butte1 et al. (1990). technology (Whyte 1991). It also implies that farmers Rhoades (1990b), however, criticised over-reliance on become directly involved in the research that isthe questionnaire as the primary means of obtaining appropriate to their particular needs. Group meetings areinformation. He indicated that what people say is not an important part of the information exchange process in
  15. 15. Constraints to the adoption of agricultural and environmental innovations 563this approach. This is especially true for small-scale particularly as it was only introduced into landfarmers who engage in joint-farm operations, or belong management extension in the late 1980s. Althoughto agricultural co-operatives. There, members of the widespread, the effectiveness of this approach across agroup can compare their experiences of technology wider spectrum of enterprises needs to be furthertransfer (Lee 1988). validated, and the relative rates of adoption of those PAR complements the Rogers (1983) traditional farmers involved and those not involved in Land Careadoption-diffusion model (Russell et al. 1989; Campbell programs should be determined.and Junor 1992) and may be considered as an extension or The concept of farmer community groups working onfurther development of Rogerss convergent model of their own productivity-based problems is not a newadoption-diffusion, where farmers, scientists, and concept (Tully 1966). By forming a group, whereextension workers create and share information to help extension personnel and farmers discussed the issuesthemselves reach a common understanding of the relating to their low productivity, dairy farmers from theproblem. In Australia, the PAR approach is only Caleta Valley in Queensland were able to both definebeginning to be tested. A recent example of the and solve their problems of poor pasture vigour. Tullyapplication of this approach to extension has been through (1966) demonstrated that on being encouraged to seethe establishment of the Land Care program (Campbell what their real problem was, which in this case was theand Junor 1992). The perceived benefits of the PAR need for improved pasture, the farmers becameapproach are: first, groups accelerate attitude change, and convinced of their need and actively went aboutthe development of more appropriate land management adoption. The formation of the group also increased theinnovations. Second, this approach asserts that attitude understanding of the need for adoption within the group.changes lead to behavioural-change. However, we would There are a number of perceived limitations of thesuggest that although attitude change is a prerequisite for various PAR approaches to extension (Campbell andbehavioural change, behavioural change does not Junor 1992). There is a perception that to involveautomatically follow on from attitude change. Third, PAR scientists in this process is distracting them from theirhas developed to recognise the needs of farmers to primary role of research. Also, as PAR groups assumebecome involved directly in taking responsibility for their more responsibility, government advisory officers willown destiny, and to participate to enhance their have less input into extension. There has also been aunderstanding and commitment to developing solutions suggestion that farmer groups that were originallyand decision making. This is based on the findings of established for a specific purpose could becomeKnowles (1978), which indicated that people are distracted from their original reasons for forming thecommitted to a decision or activity in direct proportion to groups (Campbell and Junor 1992). Anderson (1981) hastheir planning in, or influence on, that decision. In identified a problem that may arise when networks of addition, Rhoades (19906) claimed that farmers are farmers are established. Once established, theseexperts in defining their problems and therefore should networks can exhibit varying degrees of closure so thathave input directly into agricultural research. Fourth, information entering these networks from governmentlimited extension resources can be more efficiently advisers or specialists, or knowledge produced within utilised in servicing groups. This is particularly the case in these networks through farmer group trials, is likely toland management extension in Australia, where the remain within the networks and not pass immediately to government does not have the resources to deal with the wider farming community. This claim was based on a conservation, management and remediation of soils on its study of several farming groups in Australia, and own (Charnala and Mortiss 1990). Some of the key issues therefore highlights a potential problem with an in this area are: soil and water pollution from agricultural approach to extension that involves the formation of chemicals; salination of water; soil acidification; declining groups (Anderson 1981). Another criticism is that if soil structure; insect resistance; and reduced water quality. farmers are directly involved in research, what will be Finally, it has been suggested that local farmer groups can the scientific quality and wider applicability of the more readily access agribusinesses and private consultants results? The quality of data obtained from some field (Campbell and Junor 1992). experiments conducted by personnel who are not trained Campbell and Junor (1992) reviewed studies in scientific methods is unlikely to be useful to the wider conducted in 1990 and 1991 where from a total of more scientific community. Moreover, the PAR approach to than 3000 Australian farmers, 23% were found to be extension assumes that farmers want to be involved in involved in Land Care groups. Cary (1992) has shown the research that is applicable to them, but it should not that membership of a Land Care group was the most be assumed that farmers necessarily want to be involved. important factor determining the level of tree-planting In addition, Ojiambo (1989) has provided evidence that behaviour in a group of central Victorian farmers. These farmers prefer informal oral sources, channels mainly reports indicate that PAR has had a wide impact, with extension personnel, farm demonstrations, and