Factors pertaining the gap between research and practice: The case of innovative spraying equipment
ESEE 2019, 24th EUROPEAN SEMINAR ON EXTENSION AND EDUCATION, 18-21 June 2019, Acireale (Italy)
Alex Koutsouris1, Emilio Gil2, Paolo Balsari3, Sebastien Codis4, David Nuyttens5, Spyros Fountas1, Vassiliki Kanaki1, Athanasios Balafoutis6
1 Agricultural University of Athens, Greece, email@example.com
2 Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain, Emilio.firstname.lastname@example.org
3 Universita degli Studi di Torino, Italy, email@example.com
4 Institut Francais de la Vigne et du Vin, France, firstname.lastname@example.org
5 Instituut voor landbouw en visserijonderzoek, Belgium, email@example.com
6 Centre for Research & Technology Hellas, Greece, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction: The Thematic Network on “Innovative Spraying Equipment, Training and Advising” (INNOSETA) aims at the effective exchange between researchers, industry, extension services and farming community. The network links directly applicable research and commercial solutions and grassroots level needs and innovative ideas thus contributing to close the research and innovation divide in this area. Among others, the INNOSETA project aims at assessing end-users’ needs and interests and at identifying the factors that influence farmers’ generation shift, adoption and diffusion of SETA.
Purpose: In this paper some of the results of the on-going data analysis, collected through farmers’ survey (see below) are presented particularly concerning the identification of farmers’ groups with similar characteristics that relate to farmers’ perceptions and adoption of innovatory spraying equipment.
Design/Methodology/approach: Data were drawn from farmers’ survey in seven EU hubs: France, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands and Belgium, Poland, Spain, and Sweden. Five cropping systems were selected throughout all regions, i.e. arable crops, open field vegetables, orchards, greenhouses and vineyards. The target was to interview 50 farmers (comprising 25 adopters and 25 non-adopters of innovative spraying equipment) per hub, based on the farm size classes for each of the cropping systems per country (EUROSTAT 2013). Overall, 348 valid questionnaires were collected. For data analysis the packages SPSS for Windows (ver 23.0) and SPAD (ver5.5) were used. Analysis was at both univariate (frequencies) and multivariate level. For the latter Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) and Cluster Analysis were utilized.
Findings: Five groups of farmers have been identified showing differences in farms’ and farmers’ characteristics and general perceptions as well as with regard to their perceptions and adoption of innovative spraying equipment. Some indicative findings follow.
- All Groups: the majority waits for others to have positive experiences with technology before adopting it
- Group 5: also prefer to have some experience with technology before adopting it
- Group 5: farmers are the first ones to know of new technology among the social circles.
- Group 4: farmers depend on the opinion of their social circles in order to acquire new technology.
- Group 4: farmers rely on their own experience for the use and operation of spraying equipment; advisors follow (important source of information on spraying equipment)
- Advisors are important for Group 3
- Group 5: the most important source are manufactures and their dealers; the Internet follows
- Groups 3 and 4: the majority experiment on their farms by themselves
- Group 5: high percentage of farmers who experiment with other farmers as well as with researchers and advisors
- Groups 3 and 5: farmers keener to adopt innovatory spraying machinery; farming is their primary occupation while the first seem to rely more than other farmers on advisory services and the latter on joint-experimentation and contacts with manufactures/dealers.
- Group 5: farmers more sensitive vis-à-vis environmental protection, the reduction of PPP inputs and farm size when making decisions on buying new spraying machinery
- Groups 4 and 5: farmers put emphasis on compliance with EU Regulations, operator safety and economic considerations
- Groups 4 and 5: farmers believe that the reduction of environmental hazards and the compatibility of the equipment are more important characteristics of spraying equipment that would make them more relevant to farmers’ needs than their colleagues do
- Group 5: farmers do not show much interest on whether the new equipment will show economic benefits right away (or not)
Conclusion: Innovation adoption and diffusion is undoubtedly multifactorial (Rogers, 2003); the heterogeneity of both farms and farmers affects what is adopted, to what extent, and when. In this piece of on-going work, an attempt to construct famers’ groups with similar characteristics, as regards the adoption of innovatory spraying equipment, was undertaken. Despite the particular scope and sampling methodology followed in the INNOSETA project, the importance of exploring the differing features of target-groups has been shown. Further exploration, especially vis-à-vis national/regional AKIS is needed.
Implications: Stakeholders need to gain deeper knowledge of farmers’ characteristics and needs in order to bridge the gap between research developments and the actual use of the available equipment by farmers.