The research helps to find the main drivers for adoption. Socio-economic factors like age, sex, and education have an impact on adoption of Information Technology. According to Pierpaoli et al. (2013), age of farmers on adoption varies. It is very difficult to distinguish between the adopters and non-adopters with the age. However, in some cases the young generation is more accepting of new technologies [30
]. The response from the survey showed that young farmers in Ireland are adopting Information Technology like CC. The research of Knierim et al. says that demographic factors like age do not have any dependency on adoption of smart farming in European countries [31
]. However, the interview with old farmers in Ireland showed a strong reluctance to use new technology due to their lack of interest and strong belief in their traditional farming. Interestingly, most of the non-adopter farmers show interest in accessing CC technology on their farms. According to Keskin et al., farmers with small farms were not able to invest in any new technologies due to low income [32
]. Size and perceived ease of use is competitive and contingent factors of Ex-Ante model. Perceived ease of use in TAM model is influenced by other factors like education, support availability, computer efficiency and previous experience in using any technologies [31
]. Dairy farmers in Ireland were observed to embrace more new technologies. As stated by Nicole et al., a significant factor that separates adopters and non-adopters is farm size. Adopters tended to have large farms while non-adopters tended to have small farms [33
]. In a study conducted in Turkey on usage of precision technology in farms, it was mentioned that lack of knowledge on using any precision technology is the main barrier to adopt any technology on farm [34
]. On the other hand, small farm size, complexity and ease of use is the reason for non-adopter farmers in Ireland not using any SFT in their farm. One of the farmers said that making the software or mobile application less complex would enhance their usability among the computer illiterate staff members. However, the perception of complexity on use is high among the non-adopter farmers. In addition to the lack of experts available to initiate the learning process among non-adopter farmers is another reason, the response from one of the farmers suggested lack of presence of informants on passing the information to explain its usability. According to Ex-ante model, cost and perceived benefit and usefulness was another factor affecting attitude of adoption. Cost was the main factor that takes farmers away from embracing any technology. Initial investment was a major barrier for the majority of non-adopter farmers. However, a beef farmer said that he was unsure about its value and suitability of Information Technology on his farm. On the other hand, many farmers believes that SFT like CC would increase its productivity but are skeptical about its benefits on their farm. It is also observed that part time farmers are less likely to adapt to CC technology. However, most of the non-adopter farmers had more than one job and they earn less from the farming which makes them concerned about investing in a new technology in which they are not sure about its return of investment. Considering the above factors effecting adoption, the Ex-Ante model of adoption factor among Irish farmers is as shown in Figure 18
. However, this study among Irish farmers revealed that infrastructure factors, like absence of internet, also affect the adoption of technology among farmers and are more in the rural area of Ireland. Moreover, data security is another concern of some of the Irish farmers who have already adapted to technology, in order to further improve their farm.
4.1.1. Farmers’ Technological and Information Seeking Behavior
There are a number of alternative methods to seek the information for farmers. The information collected through those mediums enables decision making that support innovation. The source for information depends on individuals. It is a complex process to find a pattern of information seeking behaviour of farmers. The pattern would help in extension of information seeking methods and would help farmers to access the information from the available sources without any error [35
]. The survey among Irish farmers shows that the digital platform has a great impact on information seeking behaviour of Irish farmers. YouTube, Whatsapp, Facebook and farming news portal were the main digital sources used by farmers who adopted cloud technology in their farm. The non-adopters sought information through the newspaper, contacting other farmers and a small amount of farmers prefer TV and digital platforms to seek the information.
A proper communication channel between farmers is needed for a setup that can enable the information about technology and its updates to circulate between the farmers. Identification of the right communication channel would help to introduce new technology to the farmers and the platform would aid government, researchers and Agro-tech companies to broadcast information. However, the response from the Irish farmers showed that most of the farmers were communicating with each other in the group meeting associated with their farmers’ association. A knowledge transfer program introduced by Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) is a discussion group to increase the skill among Irish farmers. According to interviews with farmers in Ireland, non-adopter farmers were not aware of this program. The reasons given by the farmers were that the sharing information was difficult for some farmers as they live in more secluded environments while others suggested that sharing information platforms were not implemented in the best way. Social media, SMS and Email also find great impact on the communication between farmers.
4.1.2. Cloud Computing Usage among Irish Farmers
One of the main objectives of this research was to find the rate of usage of SFT among the farmers. Interestingly, more than 60% of farmers surveyed were using some kind of information technology and out of that 70% used cloud technology on their farm. More than 70% of farmers like technologically driven agriculture. Adopters utilize the cloud technology for different applications in their farm like recording animal events, herd management, recording stock, and financial budgeting. However, more than 25% of females make use of cloud technology. The response from one of the female farmers was that they find useful paperwork related to the farm through mobile platforms and some make use of it in the office for updating information regarding stocks. Most of the farmers are making use of this for off farm practices. However, there are farmers who use IoT sensors like Moocall for cows, an application to record background farm data like PastureBase, RFID tag. However, more than 55% of farmers who did not use any kind of technology would like to make use of cloud technology in the future. Most of them would like to use technology for animal tracking and health, online application, GPS, yield mapping, etc.
In the present scenario, utilizing CC technology had a great scope in Ireland. The survey from farmers explained that they need more application for the herd management and financial budgeting. However, response from farmers revealed that available cloud-based application was complex to use. The Agro-Tech companies have great scope in Ireland if they develop more cloud based applications for farmers, which are mobile friendly and easy to use. The training program would be an add on to motivate the farmers.