Innovation and Networks in New Zealand Farming
21 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2017
Date Written: July 2017
The New Zealand government seeks to dramatically increase the value of agricultural exports while concurrently protecting the natural environment. Thus, farmers are expected to adopt pro‐environmental management practices and novel farm technologies. We show that farmers are more likely to adopt new practices and technologies after seeing them demonstrated, but earlier evidence indicates that demonstration is most effectively undertaken within farmer networks. We use multivariate regression to identify the traits of livestock farmers who are innovative by focusing on adoption of pro‐environmental management practices (managing nutrients, soils and pugging) and novel farm technologies (e.g., windmills, computer‐based management systems, automatic sensors and specialised grasses), considering both numbers adopted and timing. We find that dairy farmers are more innovative than other livestock farmers and that higher education levels and stronger environmental norms within the family are strongly associated with innovativeness. In addition, we find that innovators and early adopters have larger networks than other farmers. Moreover, the composition of these networks is much more varied than the networks of less innovative farmers. These findings imply that innovative farmers in New Zealand may also act as connectors for the diffusion of new ideas in farming.
Keywords: best management practices, connectors, dairy, diffusion, Survey of Rural Decision Makers, technology adoption
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation