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Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering >> 2018, Volume 5, Issue 4 doi: 10.15302/J-FASE-2018244

A proposed framework for accelerating technology trajectories in agriculture: a case study in China

1. School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK
2. FERA Sciences Ltd., National Agri-Food Innovation Campus, Sand Hutton, Yo41 1LZ, UK
3. RSK ADAS, Leeds, LS15 8GB, UK
4. School of Economics and Management, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China
5. National Engineering Research Center for Information Technology in Agriculture, Beijing 100097, China
6. Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, Beijing 100081, China
7. School of Engineering, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK

Accepted: 2018-11-07 Available online:2018-11-19

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Precision agriculture (PA) technologies have great potential for promoting sustainable intensification of food production, ensuring targeted delivery of agricultural inputs, and hence food security and environmental protection. The benefits of PA technologies are applicable across a broad range of agronomic, environmental and rural socio-economic contexts globally. However, farmer and land-manager adoption in low to middle income countries has typically been slower than that observed in more affluent countries. China is currently engaged in the process of agricultural modernisation to ensure food security for its 1.4 billion population and has developed a portfolio of policies designed to improve food security, while simultaneously promoting environmental protection. Particular attention has been paid to the reduction of agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides. The widespread adoption of PA technologies across the Chinese agricultural landscape is central to the success of these policies. However, socio-economic and cultural barriers, farm scale, (in particular the prevalence of smaller family farms) and demographic changes in the rural population, (for example, the movement of younger people to the cities) represent barriers to PA adoption across China. A framework for ensuring an acceptable and accelerated PA technology trajectory is proposed which combines systematic understanding of farmer and end-user priorities and preferences for technology design throughout the technology development process, and subsequent end-user requirements for implementation (including demonstration of economic and agronomic benefits, and knowledge transfer). Future research will validate the framework against qualitative and quantitative socio-economic, cultural and agronomic indicators of successful, or otherwise, PA implementation. The results will provide the evidence upon which to develop further policies regarding how to secure sustainable food production and how best to implement PA in China, as well as practical recommendations for optimising end-user uptake.

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