The role of advisory services in farmers’ decision making for innovation uptake: new technology.
The county of Trøndelag in mid-Norway has the city of Trondheim as the fourth largest city in Norway. Trøndelag is one of the largest agricultural producers in Norway. The county has the largest production of cattle and milk production represents about 20% of the total milk production in Norway.
The main reasons for the choice of Trøndelag as the focus region, is that dairy farming is the major agricultural production where the implementation of the milking robot started early, and the density of the technology is greater than in other parts of the country. The milking robot technology was chosen because it has become a well-established technology. Additionally, it represents a relatively new transformation in Norwegian agriculture, where almost half of Norwegian dairy farmers have implemented the technology during the last ten to twenty years.Study focus
Dairy farming has experienced major technological developments where one of the most important is the introduction of milking robots. Implementing a milking robot often requires more than just the robot itself, but also rebuilding or building of a new barn, which enables loose housing for the cows.
Investment in a new barn often includes installing a milking robot. The milking robots are often combined with other devices in the barn like a robot for feeding, activity measuring, robot for cleaning, etc. A milking robot is associated with increased efficiency and productivity, and consequently profitability in dairy farming and a more flexible work situation for dairy farmers and their households. In total 29 interviews with farmers were carried out, of which 20 were adopters and nine were non-adopters. In addition, eight AKIS-expert interviews were conducted.
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Ruralis- Institute for Rural and Regional Research
1.A change in advisory services. Findings show a change in advisory services from when the pioneers first started to implement the robots as early as 2000 until the later adopters implemented in the last years. In the beginning, there were usually only the suppliers that gave advice in implementation, and the traditional advisory organizations were not part of this. Still, the suppliers are very important in both the assessment stage, in the implementation and for regular maintenance of the equipment. The milk cooperative Tine is active in the assessment stage and when implemented Tine advise farmers about farm management using data from the robot. Today many actors support farmers at the assessment stage, both traditional advisors and bank and accounting companies. Farmers that have implemented a milking robot seem to have gained needed services from a range of advisors, including other farmers. Besides the suppliers of robots, the adopters and the non-adopters have much the same micro-AKIS; they use the same advisors where the traditional advisory organizations in agriculture are important actors.
2.Non-adoption cannot be placed as explanations of lacking support or a different micro AKIS. The nine non-adopters in the study consisted mainly of three groups. The first group of farmers that are part of a joint farm, where they are managing the farm, and therefore do not need the extra workforce that the milking robot represents. As many farmers’ motivation to invest in the robot is to get more flexibility, these farmers lack this incentive, as they already have flexibility by sharing the farm work. The second group is younger people that do not have resources to invest in a robot. They have either no access or cannot afford arable land and/or milk quotas. Additionally, several lack arable land and find it difficult to get predictable land lease agreements. Making a big investment in land, milk quotas and a milking robot (which means a considerable debt), and the unpredictability of renting and not owning land and quotas, can be a big worry and a barrier for the farmers to implement a robot. The third group consists of farmers that are going to invest in a robot in the next 1-2 years mainly because of generational change on the farm and a need for upgrading. Regarding advisors and AKIS-actors, non-adopters do not differ from the rest of the sample, and non-adoption cannot be placed as explanations of lacking support or a different micro AKIS.
3.Agricultural policy in Norway has encouraged and stimulated farmers.The agricultural policy in Norway has encouraged and stimulated farmers to increase production and growth. For many dairy farmers, a consequence has been a need for huge investment and large loans. Such farmers are in a situation where small changes in framework conditions may reduce profitability dramatically.