This project studies the adoption potential and related impacts of robotics and phenotyping (PhenoRob) technologies on agricultural development, welfare, and the environment at farm and landscape scales. It involves collaboration between agricultural economics and informatics and engages with projects across the whole cluster in order to understand the conditions under which PhenoRob technologies may contribute to sustainable agricultural transformation.
As a key long-term output, we develop an agent-based model (ABM) of technology diffusion. The ABM serves as a virtual laboratory that allows us to explore the relevance of alternative economic theories and related empirical phenomena for the diffusion of PhenoRob-type technologies in crop production.
The project employs a mix of conceptual, empirical and modelling approaches: (1) We develop an economically motivated conceptual framework of pathways through which key attributes of PhenoRob technologies may affect economic and environmental outcomes in Germany and beyond. Building on a systematic literature review, we (2) design choice experiments to understand and quantify the role of selected technology attributes for adoption at farm level and (3) develop empirical impact assessment tools based on expert knowledge, case studies, and secondary data. (4) ABM model development proceeds in two steps: First, stylized models are developed that allow quick modifications for general testing purposes to identify relevant agent types, their behavioral representation, processes, and agent interaction through various institutions. We assess relevance with respect to technology diffusion rates and related environmental and economic impacts, for example on labor markets, at farm and regional scale. Second, the stylized ABMs will be integrated, expanded and parameterized based on the above-mentioned experimental and empirical analyses. Beyond studying farm and agricultural service agents, the ABM will allow us to assess the potential impact of new phenotyping opportunities on the plant breeding system.