I am an interdisciplinary scientist and tech entrepreneur. With a background in biomedical sciences and a D.Sc. in Innovation Management, my goal is to strengthen the connection between science and market. As a researcher, I am currently a post-doc at the Institute for Food- and Resource Economics from the University of Bonn and conduct projects regarding the digitalization of agriculture, understanding its drivers, barriers, and effects and regarding the adoption of bio-based ingredients coming from the reutilization of agricultural biomass.
The agricultural sector is currently struggling to craft a foundation for the broader implementation of precision agriculture technologies (PATs). Applying the technological innovation systems (TIS) lenses, we claim that channels and codes for information flow and sharing are not evident for the TIS of precision agriculture and that no common ground exists upon which these may develop. The clearest expression of this is that prospective users of the technologies (i.e. farmers) are so far limited to a rather passive role at the edges of the innovation processes.
No matter the potential promise of PATs, i.e. to generate higher yields with fewer chemical inputs and lower environmental impact, there is little opportunity to integrate insights from and the day-to-day challenges of these actors into extant R&D processes. Consequently, this article addresses the question(s) of how do farmers perceive the challenges and opportunities of PATs, and how do these differ from other prominent stakeholders in the TIS? To answer these questions, we utilize the mixed-method approach of Group Concept Mapping (GCM). Among other advantages, GCM allows stakeholders, and not the researcher, to dictate the content of the research process while also ensuring that both minority and majority viewpoints are included in the final analysis.
In general, the method consists of two main steps: 1) an in-person ‘brainstorming’ discussion to generate relevant statements around the topic, which took place in April 2019 (n=8) and 2) an online-based task in which a broader group (n≈70) is then asked to sort the statements into categories and rate them in terms of importance and potential of influenceability.
The sample will consist of those key actors of the TIS, including farmers, technology producers, government representatives, intermediaries (e.g. farmer associations and contractors) from Germany and Switzerland. Concerning precision agriculture, this exploratory and bottom-up method allows us to give voice to different stakeholders as well as to identify key obstacles and prerequisites to attaining shared understandings of PATs, thereby facilitating adoption and diffusion more generally.
Authors: Débora Moretti, Chad Baum, Melf-Hinrich Ehlers, Robert Finger and Stefanie Bröring
Acknowledgement: financial support of the Humboldt Foundation
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