Farm Technology Adoption and Income Opportunities

Wyn Morris, David Dowell, Andrew Henley

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This paper examines technology adoption by agricultural enterprises in Wales. The primary focus of the research is to compare technology adopters with non-adopters. Further, the paper addresses wider questions of the use of technology to support business diversification into alternative non-farm income sources.

Prior Work

Agricultural businesses face environmental and social challenges; policy reforms as well as sustained pressure on income levels are creating a need for further innovation. This includes both development of new technologies and an improvement in technology transfer and adoption. Previous research has largely focussed on forage improvements, mechanisation and the challenges faced in developing countries.

Little is known about how agricultural enterprises respond to technology and its application to the exploitation of income generating opportunities/decision-making. While a great deal is known about alternative income seeking motives, this research is more concerned with on farm technology options versus the drive to seek alternative off-farm incomes.

Sheep farmers, particularly upland ones, have been isolated from market forces by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). As the CAP evolves and budgets decline these businesses are under increased pressure to adopt a more entrepreneurial and innovative stance towards business practice.


The research utilises a mixed methods approach, combining qualitative interviews with survey-based quantitative data (n=738). Semi-structured interviews were carried out to gain a deeper understanding of barriers to adoption and attitudes towards technology. The quantitative data includes farm enterprises, farm size, farmer demographics, current use of technology, and income streams. Analysis of the data includes Chi-square and ANOVA, which are used to understand technology and off-farm entrepreneurial behaviours.


The results indicate that those who are part of breeding programmes tend to have higher uptake of technology, however are less likely to engage in off-farm entrepreneurial activity. When controlling for farm size and type the trends are even starker.


Increased understanding of barriers to technology adoption will assist researchers in transferring knowledge, inform policy and assist the industry in improving efficiency and resilience. The wider benefits should spill over into the wider rural economy. However these results show that innovation adoption in core agricultural activity can suppress the need for other forms of entrepreneurial activity.


This paper brings an insight into the tensions between pressures to improve core farming practice and other entrepreneurial activity, and has important implications for policy approaches that might seek to promote a complementary approach to farm technology adoption and entrepreneurial stance.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventISBE Conference 2015 - Glasgow, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Duration: 11 Nov 201512 Nov 2015


ConferenceISBE Conference 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Period11 Nov 201512 Nov 2015


  • Technology Adoption
  • Farm


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