ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Social Factors Influencing Technology Adoption in the Rice Industry (2014-2016)

Strategic Research Area

Food Security and Regional Australia


Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, $129,000


Associate Professor Vaughan Higgins (ILWS) and Associate Professor Melanie Bryant (Swinburne University of Technology)


Rice PaddiesThe Australian rice industry has engaged in a number of change initiatives involving technologies aimed at increasing on-farm production efficiency, water use efficiency and environmental management.  However, little is currently known about the range of influences on growers' adoption practices, including why and how they adopt or do not adopt, or the challenges that both stakeholders and growers face in implementing new technologies.  This research makes an important contribution by investigating the social factors that influence rice growers' adoption of technology, and how the industry can work better with growers to ensure that the rice industry maintains and increases competitive advantage.

The main aim of this two-year project was to investigate the social factors influencing technology adoption by Australian rice growers across the Murrumbidgee, Murray and Coleambally Irrigation Areas.  In doing so the project focused on four specific objectives:

Identify specific enablers that will encourage late or non-adopters to engage in change practices (Grower level);

Investigate the key social drivers that will enable increased technology adoption across the rice industry (Industry level);

Explore communication methods that growers use to become informed of changes in the rice industry, and provide recommendations as to whether or how current communication methods are effective;

Develop a set of priorities and recommendations that RIRDC and rice industry stakeholders can implement to drive further change adoption.

The project used qualitative research methods consisting of semi-structured interviews undertaken in two concurrent phases.  In the first phase, interviews were conducted with 20 key rice industry stakeholders, including farm advisors and agronomists as well as representatives from organisations such as Rice Research Australia, Ricegrowers Association of Australia, Rice Research and Development Commit and NSW DPI.

In the second phase, interviews were conducted with 59 rice growers from across the three main rice growing regions – Murray (25 interviews); MIA (25 interviews), and CIA (9 interviews).  A purposive sampling technique was used to ensure that a diversity of enterprises and growers were represented.


A final report was submitted to RIRDC in October 2016 outlining key findings and recommendations. The report will be available on the RIRDC website


Expected outcomes from this research include:

Providing information to industry stakeholders about key contributors to late or non-adoption of technology (e.g., economic, skills-based, resources, education, sources of information etc) as well as reasons why early adopters are willing to engage in change.  This information can be used by stakeholders to develop specifically targeted change strategies or to consider ways in which skills training and education can be extended, developed and communicated to growers.

Developing an understanding of effectiveness of current information dissemination strategies used to inform growers of grower technologies.  This information can provide stakeholders involved in communicating information with data to inform the development of more effective communication strategies including the nature of information used; how it is targeted to growers; and use of appropriate media to meet growers' needs


A[Prof Vaughan Higgins
Charles Sturt University – Albury

May 2017