37 – Adoption of conservation technologies by rural landholders

This is a brief advertisement for a new paper on my web site. It’s called “Understanding and promoting adoption of conservation practices by rural landholders” and it’s by an (ahem) all-star multidisciplinary cast of social scientists from economics, sociology and psychology: David Pannell, Graham Marshall, Neil Barr, Allan Curtis, Frank Vanclay and Roger Wilkinson.

It was fun to work with such a diverse and eminent team of co-authors, and the result is pretty good I reckon. There was quite a bit of give and take in the process of the collaboration, and there needed to be. But the final result captures a genuine consensus built from our six perspectives.

I will highlight some particular parts of the review in future weeks, but for now here is the abstract and links to the full paper.

Abstract: Research on adoption of rural innovations is reviewed and interpreted through a cross-disciplinary lens to provide practical guidance for research, extension and policy relating to conservation technologies. Adoption of innovations by landholders is presented as a dynamic learning process. Adoption depends on a range of personal, social, cultural and economic factors, as well as on characteristics of the innovation itself. Adoption occurs when the landholder perceives that the innovation in question will enhance the achievement of their personal goals. A range of goals is identifiable among landholders, including economic, social and environmental goals. Innovations are more likely to be adopted when they have a high “relative advantage” (perceived superiority to the idea or technology that it supersedes), and when they are readily trialable (easy to test and learn about prior to adoption). Non-adoption or low adoption of a number of conservation technologies is readily explicable in terms of their failure to provide a relative advantage (particularly in economic terms), and/or a range of difficulties that farmers may have in trialling them. Implications for research, extension, and policy are discussed.

Pannell, D.J., Marshall, G.R., Barr, N., Curtis, A., Vanclay, F. and Wilkinson, R. (2006). Understanding and promoting adoption of conservation practices by rural landholders. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 46(11): 1407-1424. Access paper at Journal web site here. Pre-publication version available here (161K).

David Pannell, The University of Western Australia

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