The Pavitt taxonomy of invention in industry places agriculture is the bucket of “supplier dominated”. That is, most of the technological improvements in the sector come from the suppliers of the inputs (seed firms, fert firms, machinery firms, etc). This seems reasonable, given R&D is an expensive and risky game. Most farmers can neither afford to conduct their own R&D on things like genetics, nor capture the benefits. But this doesn’t mean they are not inventive. I think more or else everything who is or knows a farmer would be insulted by a claim that they are not. The very application of these inputs requires that they are inventive in that they must adapt the technology to their own farm business.

Here is a list of some of the ideas I really like that have come from farmers:

  • to protect the feet of the sugar beet clamp, place a skinnier strip of TopTex along the feet, before the contractor arrives to place the normal TopTex over the top. This will probably get dirty/ ruined, but it get tucked into the clamp with the normal TopTex, and thus form a tight seal around the feet. This will ensure more water is taken away from the clamp, and that less air can flow into the clamp.
    • Just a note: in that same discussion round, it was mentioned that few people have tried double TopTex (see, more experimentation), but the general consensus is that this doesn’t achieve much at all.

Modern thinkers, old fashioned doers.

On one of the podcasts I like to listen to – Head Sheperd with Mark Ferguson – his guest Sarah Adams mentioned that her father was once described as “a modern thinker, but an old fashioned doer”. He was an industry leader in the things he did, he just did them without modern IT. I wonder how many innovative farmers have been dismissed because they also fit into this bucket? Or how many external innovations are rejected because they are “modern doers”.

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