Technology Adoption in the Rice Industry

AgriFutures Australia - Vaughan Higgins and Melanie Bryant

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

A better understanding of grower adoption practices, particularly adoption of complex technologies such as PA, is crucial in realising the full potential of such technology across all industries.  This report focusses on the rice industry


The influencing social factors

This report investigates the social drivers that influence technology adoption by rice growers.

These drivers include farmers’ personal goals, knowledge and networks as well as the broader cultural, institutional and environmental context within which they make decisions. The research is important in identifying constraints and enablers to adoption that are not necessarily known by industry stakeholders, or cannot easily be located within existing research and practice.

The report is targeted at rice industry stakeholders including SunRice, RGA, RIRDC Rice Advisory Panel, RRAPL, NSW DPI, as well as agronomists and farm advisors located in the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Coleambally irrigation areas.

The main aim of this two-year project was to investigate the social factors influencing technology adoption by Australian rice growers across the Murrumbidgee, Murray and Coleambally Irrigation Areas.

In doing so the project focused on four specific objectives:

  1. identify specific enablers that will encourage late or non-adopters to engage in change practices (Grower level); investigate the key social drivers that will enable increased technology adoption across the rice industry (Industry level)
  2. explore communication methods that growers use to become informed of changes in the rice industry, and provide recommendations as to whether or how current communication methods are effective
  3. develop a set of priorities and recommendations that RIRDC and rice industry stakeholders can implement to drive further change adoption

The project used qualitative research methods consisting of semi-structured interviews undertaken in two concurrent phases.

Summary of Recommendations

  1. Development of a Rice Industry Strategic Plan for Technological Change to promote a consistent understanding among stakeholders and growers of industry technological change priorities, and key technologies that growers should be adopting.
  2. Implement and promote an industry-wide strategy for bottom-up grower input into industry change priorities. A bottom-up grower input strategy could be included in the recommendation above (as part of a broader Rice Industry Strategic Plan for Technological Change), which would identify a number of formal avenues in which growers could provide feedback and input into technology change as well as ideas on innovation more broadly.
  3. Development of regular (for example, bi-annual, or as needed) workshops developed for agronomists and other trusted change intermediaries that: (a) provides a consistent message from the industry regarding the technologies that growers should be adopting, (b) improves awareness and knowledge of new technologies being promoted in rice industry, and (c) provides agronomists with the confidence and skills to promote new technologies to growers.
  4. Implement a Change Champions Program (CCP) to foster and formalise the sharing of technological knowledge among growers, and between stakeholders and growers, on (a) practical approaches to technology implementation on-farm, and (b) options and shortcuts for growers in adapting new technology to existing technology and equipment.
  5. Develop and implement a series of change workshops for industry stakeholders that highlight different aspects of change management, including: effective change communication; the role of the stakeholder in change implementation; grower and stakeholder responses to change and interpreting what these different responses mean; implementing change within structural limitations; and other key issues as identified by stakeholders/different stakeholder groups.
2017 - Australia - AgriFutures Australia - Vaughan Higgins and Melanie Bryant
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About the Organisation

Name: AgriFutures Australia

AgriFutures Australia is a new beginning for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. We are an organisation that proudly focuses on the future of Australian agriculture. We live and work in the regions and represent the interests and aspirations of farmers and rural communities.

Our vision is to grow the long-term prosperity of Australian rural industries. In practical terms, this means:

Initiatives that attract capable people into careers in agriculture, build the capability of future rural leaders, and support change makers and thought leaders.
Research and analysis to understand and address important issues on the horizon for Australian agriculture.
Research and development for established industries that do not have their own Research & Development Corporation (RDC), including the Rice, Chicken Meat, Honey Bee and Pollination, Thoroughbred Horse, Pasture Seeds, Export Fodder, Ginger and Tea Tree Oil industries.
Research and development to accelerate the establishment and expansion of new rural industries, such as Deer, Buffalo, Kangaroo and Camel Milk.

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