Formerly Pact Consulting Limited

Making Use of Technology Diffusion


Diffusion is the process by which the adoption of new technologies spreads over time throughout the members of a social system. Many science institutions target their extension efforts at adoption leaders in a population, and rely upon a trickle down of the technology to spread to the general population.

Diffusion is described as resulting from the effects of farmer characteristics, technology characteristics, farming systems, and communication networks available for diffusion.

The process of diffusion is enhanced by extension activities, and much can be done by scientists to improve the value of their technology to intended recipients. In order to do this, farmers should be involved during the development of technologies to identify the characteristics
most important to them and their fanning systems. New technologies should be evaluated for their effects upon the whole farm system and from farmer perceptions.

Sufficient information is needed by potential adopters for them to successfully implement new technology. The information they value most is provided by other farmers with scientific support for the essential principles they should apply.

Parminter TG, Parminter IA 1994. Making use of technology diffusion. Proceedings of the NZ Society of Animal Production 54:389-391.

Sheep and beef farming on the West Coast of the North Island of New Zealand


Over 40% of New Zealand’s occupied land area is devoted to hill country farming. The farms are typically owned, managed and worked by a single family with some help from seasonal labour. The property owned by L.D. and R.A. Neely is a typical example of the type of hill country farms found on the west coast of the North Island. It has an effective area of 520 ha and carries 5000 stock units, 30% of which are cattle. The sheep policy is to finish 60-100% of lambs produced from an improved Romney breed flock (with a 90-100% lambing rate). Friesian Hereford crossbred cows are kept for pasture management reasons and their progeny usually sold store. Dairy-beef crossbred bull calves brought from dairy farmers are hand reared to at least 15 months of age and most sold for slaughtering. In order to maintain the property’s viability during the recent agricultural downturn non-production costs were cut, sheep numbers reduced, cattle ratio increased and a greater proportion of young stock finished on the property. Restructuring the farming operation has enabled it to be maintained as a viable economic unit but the general rundown in rural servicing and increasing isolation is creating new challenges. The distinctive rural communities that have developed around hill country farming, its varied environment, and mix of livestock enterprises, have made hill country farming a vital part of New Zealand’s agricultural structure. It has historically provided the low cost investment in land that has created the opportunity for young families to build up their equity. Provided such families progress with sound enterprise decisions, this opportunity continues to exist.

Neeley RA, Parminter TG 1993. Sheep and beef farming on the West Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Proceedings of the 17th International Grassland Congress, 999-1002.