AGILE Activity 6a (Farm level adoption of lentils)

AGILE Activity 6a (Farm level adoption of lentils)

Our first GE3LS objective in AGILE was to better understand how and why producers adopt new lentil varieties. We attempted to uncover the institutional, community and personal characteristics and processes that facilitate uptake and use of new crop varieties.

Our original research target was the identification of factors that influence producer decision-making processes and drive crop choices. In particular it was noted that in locations in both Alberta (AB) and Saskatchewan (SK) where soil types are similar, lentils have been successfully adopted as an alternative pulse crop in SK, but not in AB. Armed with an understanding of these drivers, there is potential to contribute to an effective communication and knowledge exchange between lentil breeders and farmers with the aim of optimizing greater farmer adoption of new lentil varieties.

We wrote a comprehensive literature review on theory surrounding farmer choices and technology uptake (Ugochukwu and Phillips 2016) and tested growers’ perceptions and decision processes through surveys and interviews. Fransoo (2017) undertook a behavioural experiment, categorized lentil growers as risk seeking or risk averse, and found that negative framing (loss domain) did nudge growers to take more risk. He also found that growers were not overly influenced by framing effects (including provenance of the technology) but rather conformed more to the expected utility model.

A 2018 farmers survey pointed to crop-rotation and lentil prices as drivers for lentil adoption in Saskatchewan, with farmers relying heavily on the producer’s association, professional agronomists, seed growers and plant breeders at the U of S for information (Lubienechi et al, 2019, in progress). With these influencers identified, we interviewed professional agronomists and certified seed growers from both Alberta and Saskatchewan to help understand pulse adoption and the divergence in lentil adoption rates between the two provinces. A common theme from agronomists and seed growers from both SK and AB is that the perception of climate suitability for lentil, the presence of the U of S breeding program and lack of profitable crop alternatives are driving lentil production in SK, while the “safety net” of the cattle feed market for down-graded dry peas, and perception of a lentil-unfriendly growing climate are driving dry pea production in Alberta. Growers in both AB and SK are looking for lentil varieties that are better adapted to moisture and weed competition  (or more tolerant to herbicide/fungicide), and that are more determinate in growth.

Published Materials
  1. Lubienechi S., Hertes A., Phillips A. and Phillips P (2019) Pulse adoption across provincial boundaries- preliminary findings. AGILE Technical Report.
  2. Ugochukwu A.I., Phillips P.W.B. (2016) Technology Adoption by Agricultural Producers: A Review of the Literature. In: Kalaitzandonakes N., Carayannis E., Grigoroudis E., Rozakis S. (eds) From Agriscience to Agribusiness. Innovation, Technology, and Knowledge Management. Springer, Cham
  3. Fransoo, S. (2017). Pulse Producer Decision Making Under Risky Conditions: Will End-Point Royalties Change Preferences?. University of Saskatchewan. Available at:
Associated Datasets
The following datasets are related to the current experiment:

Farmer Concern: Climate Suitability

AGILE Activity 2 was focused on adaptation of Lentils to the three main macro-environments where Lentil is produced. This activity produced high quality phenotypic datasets on phenological traits such as Days to plants emerge, Days till plants have fully swollen pods, and Days till plants have one open flower which will be used for marker discovery with the end goal of breeding Lentil varieties uniquely suited to our climate.

Farmer Concern: Weed Control

An AGILE experiment on sensitivity to light quality is uncoverning genetic control behind making Lentils competitive with weeds. The end goal is to breed Lentils which are better able to compete with weeds by selecting for taller plants with greater above ground biomass when challenged by weeds or sown closer together.