Encouraging the Adoption of Decision Support Systems by Irrigators through Target Marketing

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The adoption of decision support systems (DSS) by irrigators and other farmers has been surprisingly slow. Various explanations have been given for the slow uptake including poor system design and inadequate marketing of the programs. Much of the work done to understand the adoption of technologies such as DSS amongst farmers is based on the diffusion model developed by Rogers. If the model holds, the optimal strategy for encouraging adoption is to develop a marketing strategy that will encourage innovators and early adopters to begin using the product, who will then influence others to imitate them. However, the diffusion model was originally developed to explain the adoption of the technologies such as hybrid corn, where adoption is relatively straightforward. Many modern technologies can be quite different, involving sizeable expenditures in equipment, infrastructure or human capital, and/or large additional commitments of time. In this study, the ability of the diffusion model to predict the adoption of a DSS known as Irrigator Pro is investigated. This DSS has the capacity to increase yields, reduce fungicide use and reduce the amount of water used for irrigation. A qualitative methodology involving in-depth interviews with irrigators in Georgia, USA is used to investigate farmers' attitudes to Irrigator Pro. The results indicate that several variables suggested by the diffusion model do predict adoption, including age and attitude to risk. However, other variables not predicted by the diffusion model, including computer literacy and ownership of a mid-sized farm were found to be important predictors of adoption. This implies that more rapid and widespread adoption can be achieved by not just targeting those who are traditionally considered to be innovators or early adopters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-31
Number of pages15
JournalRural Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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