Drivers for precision livestock technology adoption: A study of factors associated with adoption of electronic identification technology by commercial sheep farmers in England and Wales.

PLoS ONE. 2018;13(1):e0190489 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0190489

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML, XML

 

AUTHORS

Eliana Lima
Thomas Hopkins
Emma Gurney
Orla Shortall
Fiona Lovatt
Peers Davies
George Williamson
Jasmeet Kaler

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

Peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

The UK is the largest lamb meat producer in Europe. However, the low profitability of sheep farming sector suggests production efficiency could be improved. Although the use of technologies such as Electronic Identification (EID) tools could allow a better use of flock resources, anecdotal evidence suggests they are not widely used. The aim of this study was to assess uptake of EID technology, and explore drivers and barriers of adoption of related tools among English and Welsh farmers. Farm beliefs and management practices associated with adoption of this technology were investigated. A total of 2000 questionnaires were sent, with a response rate of 22%. Among the respondents, 87 had adopted EID tools for recording flock information, 97 intended to adopt it in the future, and 222 neither had adopted it, neither intended to adopt it. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and multivariable logistic regression modelling were used to identify farmer beliefs and management practices significantly associated with adoption of EID technology. EFA identified three factors expressing farmer's beliefs-external pressure and negative feelings, usefulness and practicality. Our results suggest farmer's beliefs play a significant role in technology uptake. Non-adopters were more likely than adopters to believe that 'government pressurise farmers to adopt technology'. In contrast, adopters were significantly more likely than non-adopters to see EID as practical and useful (p≤0.05). Farmers with higher information technologies literacy and intending to intensify production in the future were significantly more likely to adopt EID technology (p≤0.05). Importantly, flocks managed with EID tools had significantly lower farmer- reported flock lameness levels (p≤0.05). These findings bring insights on the dynamics of adoption of EID tools. Communicating evidence of the positive effects EID tools on flock performance and strengthening farmer's capability in use of technology are likely to enhance the uptake of this technology in sheep farms.