90 per cent of respondents to a Lombard poll were “somewhat” or “very” confident that agri-tech could help their business in the very near future. However, an NFU Mutual survey revealed only 14% were planning to invest in agri-tech. This finding has led us to consider a ‘hierarchy of needs’ – conditions that need to be met to enable investment in innovation.
Humans have a well-established “hierarchy of needs” which dictate our behaviour. And, with apologies to Maslow (who came up with the theory), discussions this month have inspired a new version – specifically around agri-tech adoption by farmers.
Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” states that our most basic need is to be fed and clothed followed by being safe (followed by relationship needs, esteem and then self-actualisation – or realising all you can be).
Knowledge, access to finance and certainty
Two Agri-TechE members – NFU Mutual and Lombard – have recently been asking the question of a large cohort of farmers around barriers to adoption and implementation of new technologies in the industry.
Nearly half of survey respondents in a new report by NFU Mutual cited lack of knowledge as the main reason preventing them from investing in agri-tech. A third replied that lack of access to finance was their main barrier.
This was backed up by a straw poll during a recent webinar by Lombard aimed at helping farmers think more about agri-tech on their farms, where half of the audience cited cost of implementation, and a quarter saying they “didn’t know where to start” as their constraints.
In both surveys, uncertainty featured as well the NFU Mutual survey found 17% were too uncertain about the future, and the Lombard audience either didn’t know the benefits of the tech (10%) or they were worried the technology would fail.
Although these were relatively unscientific surveys, the outcomes shouldn’t come as a surprise. But they are a clear flag to policy-makers and funders of the needs of the industry.
Benefits are understood, implementation less so
Agri-TechE is here to help tackle the knowledge issue, but as we know, every business is different and risk appetite varies across the industry. However, as further questions in the Lombard survey revealed, a massive 90% of respondents were “somewhat” or “very” confident that technology could help their business in the very near future.
Despite this, the NFU Mutual survey revealed only 14% planning to invest in agri-tech. Drivers to encourage people to invest further, Lombard’s audience suggested, include labour shortages, availability of grant funding, being more profitable and responding to the sustainability challenge – with nearly 60% of people saying all these would trigger more investment decisions.
Many drivers for innovation
In fairness to the public purse, there are currently grants available to help de-risk acquisition of new technologies for farmers. And there is also support for farmer-led R&D projects (the results of one of Innovate UK’s competitions here are soon to be announced).
Based on our experience over the years, we’d like suggest that“Ability-To-Gain-Value-From-Data” and “Understanding-The-Business-Model.” are added to the Knowledge, Finance, Certainty pyramid, once those basic needs have been met.
Over to you!