Eco-Innovation in the German Fertilizer Supply Chain

K. Böhlendorf, S. Bröring, H.W. Olfs, S.W.F. Omta

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Aim and contribution Fertilizers present an important agricultural input factor enabling sustainable plant production. In recent years, based on innovations in application techniques, new fertilizer technologies have been developed. However, these technologies differ with regard to farmers’ adoption. Current research in the technology acceptance domain (Davis, 1989) does not fully explain why farmers adopt certain fertilizer technologies and others not. The aim of the present study is to explore the different influencing factors on technology adoption, such as the education level, the perceived usefulness of new technologies and the general knowledge about the new technologies. In addition to existing research on technology adoption we strive to take a “chain perspective” on technology acceptance and seek to understand whether or not the different aforementioned variables differ with respect to the actors’ position in the fertilizer supply chain. Methods Seven experts along the fertilizer supply chain were interviewed in an exploratory manner in order to identify new fertilizer technologies. Four technologies were selected, stabilized nitrogen fertilizer (SN), biofortification (BF), fertilizer made form secondary raw materials, like meat and bone meal (called SERO) and fertigation (FG). Based on this preliminary study, we conducted a survey among 47 actors of the fertilizer supply chain including fertilizer producers, wholesalers and farmers, as well as plant nutrition researchers. A simple regression model was used to explore the relationships between technological knowledge (TK), perceived usefulness (PU), the position in the supply chain (PSC), and the education level (EL) of the different actors. Findings In general, TK about the four new technologies clearly decreased downstream the fertilizer supply chain, producers showing the highest TK and PU of the new technologies However, this differed with respect to the different technologies analyzed. SN being well known by all partners, SERO and FG less known by researchers, wholesalers, traders and farmers, and biofortification best known by researchers. The possible explanation is that the four technologies are in different stages of the technology life cycle. Three of them are fully developed (SN, SERO and FG), but two are facing acceptance problems, caused by hygienic regulations (SERO) or high costs (FG). Biofortification is still under exploration and therefore better known by researchers. Only in the traders step a clear connection between EL and TK was found. In the other chain links EL is not affecting TK. Conclusions It could be clearly shown, that the supply chain perspective can be helpful when using the technology acceptance model. TK and PU highly diminish from producers to users (farmer). Farmers tend to rely on the knowledge of traders and wholesalers, because they have become accustomed to consulting and outsourcing. Therefore the knowledge sharing between producers and the rest of the supply chain needs improvement. Also researcher needs to be better aligned with the supply chain through extension to diffuse the scientific fertilizer knowledge to the supply chain.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventWICaNeM 2014, Capri, Italy -
Duration: 4 Jun 20146 Jun 2014


ConferenceWICaNeM 2014, Capri, Italy


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