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A review of multi-scale barriers to transitioning from digital agriculture to a digital bioeconomy

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posted on 2023-06-29, 01:33 authored by Callum Eastwood, James TurnerJames Turner, Alvaro RomeraAlvaro Romera, Diana SelbieDiana Selbie, Roxanne HenwoodRoxanne Henwood, Martin Espig, Mark Wever

The use of digital technologies in agriculture has received significant attention in the last decade. There is increasing interest in the potential opportunities for digitalization at a broader bioeconomy scale; however, there is limited knowledge of the potential barriers to a digital bioeconomy. This chapter reviews current knowledge on barriers to digital agriculture and uses a case study to relate these barriers to the bioeconomy scale. We found that adoption barriers are not just technical, but include economic, social, and institutional dimensions, and occur at multiple scales involving technology design, farm systems (including supply chains), the agricultural innovation system, and society. Additionally, these barriers can be highly interconnected. For example technical issues around data interoperability cannot be addressed independently of social issues at the farm scale related to perceptions around privacy and transparent use of farmer data. Examining these multi-dimensional and multi-scale issues through a bioeconomy lens highlights the need for directionality in digital bioeconomy innovation and alignment of national policies and initiatives. Rather than assuming that greater use of digital tools is inherently positive for a national bioeconomy, nations should purposely assess and anticipate the potential implications of digitalization. Our review highlights three opportunities for directionality in the digital bioeconomy. The first is for technology design and development to directly respond to and address societal (not only end-user) needs and barriers to uptake. The second is to design and develop data governance, business models, and standards for data, which are transparent, inspire trust, and share benefits of digital technologies among supply chain stakeholders. The third is to considerably broaden the assessment of societal value from digital agriculture. Addressing the adoption barriers to the digital bioeconomy will come from integrated applications of digitalization that are purpose or ‘mission’ led, rather than inherently techno-centric.



MBIE SSIF New Zealand Bioeconomy in the Digital Age (NZBIDA)


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© CAB International 2023. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long the use is non-commercial and you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. To view a copy of this licence, visit

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  • PRJ0100909


  • English

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CAB International

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CABI Reviews



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