Assessing Broader Impacts

Published: June 1, 2023

Trust Area A3: Assessing Broader Impacts

Ultimately, the environmental, economic, and societal impact of the new BioWRAP technology will depend on the extent that it is adopted by producers and supported by food processors, consumers and the public, and ecosystem service markets. The BioWRAP team is using analytical models of technology adoption to help predict the potential market for the new technology and direct outreach with potential adopters and users of the product to increase the robustness and validity of these estimates. In addition, the team is examining the potential socio-economic impacts of BioWRAP adoption by farmers on rural communities. (A.3)

Socio-Economic Analysis: With the adoption of any technological innovation, there are associated disruptions to the social and economic systems of the agricultural industry. These impacts will depend on individual, locational, and spatial characteristics (see Fig. 10) that influence product adoption and its effect on local economies. We hypothesize that adoption of BioWRAP technology will vary by region and producer characteristics and result in benefits for rural communities. (A3:1)

Product Adoption: Though regional variabilities in biophysical factors such as climate, topography, and soil type constrain farmer decision-making, other more malleable factors including socio-cultural norms, attitudes and beliefs, farmer perceptions, experience, policy shifts, infrastructure, and the broader food-system context significantly influence agricultural producer farm management decisions. Previous studies on sustainable production strategies have found that intention to adopt new technologies is strongly dependent on producer understanding of the utility of the technology, which is itself strongly influenced by the opinions of those in the producer’s professional network. Factors such as ease of use of the innovation, compatibility with producer-specific context, self-identity, and producer economic and demographic characteristics can also play a significant role in adoption intentions and behaviors.

Rural Sustainability: Adoption of automated technologies can lead to differing labor requirements, wage earnings, and profit margins. Jobs will likely be transformed, impacting the makeup of rural agricultural communities by differentially impacting migrant and low-skilled workers and smaller farming operations. The sustainability of rural communities is a function of not just the environmental conditions of the surrounding area, but also the community social and economic characteristics. Therefore, changes to the socioeconomic makeup of rural communities resulting from adoption of the proposed technology will likely alter the sustainability of these communities. We hypothesize that BioWRAP adoption will alter rural communities resulting in a net positive impact on rural sustainability.

Valuing Ecosystems: As producer adoption of sprayable biodegradable biofilm technology will be strongly related to profitability, underlying producer characteristics, and social influences, it will also be interdependent with consumer willingness to purchase products grown using BioWRAP. Studies show that presentation of food production technology impacts consumer product acceptance. We believe that consumers will be willing to pay a significant premium for production that uses BioWRAP.


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