Innovation and Networks in New Zealand Farming

21 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2017

See all articles by Philip Brown

Philip Brown

Landcare Research

Simon Roper

University of Canterbury

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

Brown, Philip and Roper, Simon, Innovation and Networks in New Zealand Farming (July 2017). Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Vol. 61, Issue 3, pp. 422-442, 2017, Available at SSRN: or

Philip Brown (Contact Author)

Landcare Research ( email )

Private Bag 92170 Auckland Mail Centre
Aukland, 1142
New Zealand

Simon Roper

University of Canterbury

Ilam Road
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

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