This thesis explores how, and to what extent, farm businesses are responding to changing demands on agriculture in terms of resource efficiency, entrepreneurship and understanding the role of soft technology in supporting these strategies. This is in response to a changing business environment which is challenging farming income streams and profitability. The research questions in this thesis are resolved by adopting a multi-method research strategy. This includes a survey of 738 Welsh Upland hill farmers from a population of 7,500, 10 semi-structured interviews and action research in the design, development and implementation of decision support systems. Together the methods address the issues of strategic stance, and technology adoption in agriculture. The study findings are intended to be useful for farm decision-makers, support and advisory bodies, and for informing policy in terms of farming approaches, technology infrastructure and farm resource management. The research outcomes presented in the main chapters provide, individually and in synthesis, a better understanding of farming strategies and the role of technology in assisting such strategies. Collectively, the multi-phased approach to the research topic identifies many important farm responses to the economic and political tensions facing agriculture. Farmers can decide on entrepreneurial and efficiency driven strategies whilst making the best use of resources and technology. The findings also show that the strategic objectives of farm decision makers are far more influential in technology adoption than the technology itself and therefore leadership and market maturity are key factors that must be considered as influencing the degree of technology adoption. Additionally, insights are provided regarding wider issues of ICT adoption amongst farmers with particular regard to barriers to technology adoption.
|Andrew Henley (Goruchwylydd) & Peter Midmore (Goruchwylydd)