Adoption patterns

Both theoretical and empirical research studies have shown that farmer heterogeneity leads to differences in expected incomes and, therefore, to differences in the associated pattern of farmer acceptance and adoption. Certain distribution patterns may occur because a new technology benefits large farms that can adjust to new practices more easily than smaller farms. In addition, owners of low-quality, marginal land may benefit more from land quality-augmenting technology than owners of high-quality land. For example, corn acreage expanded to the sandy soils of Washington and western Nebraska with the introduction of center-pivot irrigation (Lichtenberg, 1989). Similarly, drip irrigation spread California grape and avocado production to areas with sandy soils. Fulton and Keyowski (1999), who analyzed adoption of herbicide-resistant canola in Canada, found that benefits from adoption vary across locations according to land quality and pest problems.

These impacts vary across regions and within regions. For example, adoption of new irrigation technologies shifted tomato production to California, leading to lower prices and losses for growers in Ohio and New Jersey. In addition, in their study of adoption of Bt cotton in the southeastern United States, Marra, Hubbell, and Carlson (2000) found that farmers in the lower South have a higher willingness to pay for the new technology than farmers in the upper South. They suggest that the price of the technology and the expected change in income are important determinants of adoptions.

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