CREATING AN INNOVATION OPPORTUNITY SPACE FOR BROADACRE SMART FARMING: A CASE STUDY OF AUTONOMOUS FARM EQUIPMENT
Advances in digital technologies are transforming the agriculture and agri-food system. The technological changes are represented in many forms, ranging from software-based prescriptions for optimal rate application of farm inputs, advanced imagery of fields and plants collected by sensors, satellites and drones, to new forms of human-to-machine interactions and machine learning This thesis is a case study of one type of a smart farming innovation, a field robot., originating from a small-to-medium sized enterprise (SME) that designs and manufacturers machinery used in broadacre, conservation tillage farming. The innovation, known as DOT™, is an entrepreneur’s response to problems in the agriculture industry, and a solution to a critical constraint of labour shortages in the sector. By gathering qualitative data through interviews, news items and academic publications, observing the farming community’s engagement with digital technology innovation at farm show, and applying the Innovation Opportunity Space (IOS) analytical framework, this study identified that an autonomous DOT™ offers a solution for farming problems. Other firms are incorporating the DOT™ technology into their manufacturing operations through licensing agreements and early farmer adoption is positive. The process of innovation was based on synthesis of tacit knowledge (experience-based knowledge of farming and agribusiness) and codified knowledge (drawing on computer programing), while public policy facilitated the hiring of trained university students who remain with the SME as advocates for smart farming. There remain some gaps: public policy for safe deployment of smart farming innovation is lagging behind invention and commercialization; new business models for manufacture and commercialization of high-tech equipment are just emerging and data ownership and control remains unresolved; and evidence of the value of smart farming technologies to farmers and the larger social system remains scant.
smart farming, autonomous
Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.)
Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy