Research shows that it takes about eight years from the time public research funds are invested in technology development to the time the technology is first implemented. However, in the agricultural sector it can take as long as 15 years before full adoption by stakeholders occurs. Because many technologies in the agricultural world become obsolete in 15 years, it becomes increasingly important to find ways to move technology more rapidly from research to adoption.
A paper analyzed survey responses obtained from attendees at tree fruit meetings in the Pacific northwestern and eastern United States. Results showed that many of the misgivings about new automated technologies, such as equipment cost and reliability of harvest assist, sensor systems, and fully automated harvest machinery, were consistent across the country. The results indicated subtle differences between the eastern U.S. and Pacific northwestern U.S. responses, including justifiable equipment price points and irrigation and pest concerns. “These are likely attributable to regional differences in climate, operation size and scale, and marketing strategies”, said the researchers.
Orchard owners and managers identified fuel costs, labor regulations, labor costs, insurance costs, and market conditions as the most important external influences on their businesses. Water availability/cost and quarantine regulations were least important. These responses have implications for future research and outreach efforts; studies that emphasize economic analyses with evidence of increased returns and workforce productivity will be important.
Farmers were also more likely to adopt technologies that were developed and tested locally.