Tag Archives: education

How to spread new technology in agriculture: the importance of geographic conditions and learning-from-peers

November 7, 2013 |

 

In business, it is unusual to find a technology that proves to be better and costs less than the one in use. In theory, that technology should spread like wildfire and quickly replace current production methods. If it doesn’t, there is usually a barrier that prevents its spread.

In a new CPI study, we examine a farming technology called the Direct Planting System (DPS) which has proven to be one of the most important developments in agriculture in the past decades – however, after nearly forty years of its introduction in Southern Brazil, only 10% of Brazilian farmers reported using it in the 2006 Agricultural Census. The questions we address in this study are: What is keeping this technology from spreading and how do we overcome this barrier?

Our analysis reveals that soil composition is an important factor affecting the spread of the DPS. When soils are similar in a given municipality, it is easier for farmers to learn from the experience of peers who have already successfully adopted the system. Likewise, differences in the soil can act as a barrier to the expansion of DPS, since the system would have to be adapted to different soils. 

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Amidst Prop 39 discussions, what do California schools need?

May 21, 2013 |

 

California policymakers are considering how to allocate Proposition 39 funds — an estimated $2.75 billion over five years — to support energy efficiency and clean energy projects in K-12 schools and other public buildings. Proposition 39 presents a substantial opportunity to help school districts save energy and money.

In order to inform these ongoing discussions, CPI recently analyzed existing resources and gaps in financing energy-saving projects in K-12 school districts to try to get a sense of what school districts need.

In interviews with school district officials, we heard that California’s school districts are actively looking to cut energy costs amid intense budget pressures. Interest rates are currently very low, making many energy-saving projects financially viable. But many of the typical funding sources schools use for facility improvements are limited in availability, and districts are reluctant to take on debt to fill the gap. And many districts don’t have the staff resources and technical expertise to sort through sales pitches and figure out what projects to do.

Our analysis suggests that Proposition 39 funds can best drive energy savings in three ways:

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