The Diffusion of Innovation
This page provides a good introduction to the factors that influence the spread of innovation. It begins with a short gallery activity to introduce agricultural innovation. This is then extended through a worksheet on types of innovation. A theoretical context to diffusion is provided through comparing different types of agricultural innovation to Hägerstrand’s innovation curve as well expansion and hierarchical spread. This is developed through examples such as large scale dam construction, pesticide use and GM crops. The lesson concludes with a card sort with students examining the different geographical factors that act like bridges or barriers to innovation.
What human and physical processes explain how agricultural innovations spread?
Lesson time: 1 hour
Lesson Objectives: To describe and explain how technology innovation in agriculture spreads
Starter Activity_ Synthesis and Processes_What factor Connects the Images?
Watch the gallery display below and try to remember every photo and what it shows. Once the gallery is finshed write down from memory what you saw and try and identify what factors connect them all, e.g each photo is an example of...
Student Activity_Processes_ Innovation in Agriculture
Agriculture has for millennia been modernised and innovated. In history, different regions of the world have experienced revolutions in agriculture that has led to a rapid increase in food production. In fact ancient civilisations such the Greeks, Mesopotamia and China all built their populations and development off the back of agricultural revolutions. More modern innovations relate to farming methods, technologies and farming inputs such as pesticide, seeds and irrigation.
Using the worksheet identify two specific examples of an innovation for each category.
Student Activity_Places and Processes_Home Clips
Watch the following clip of HOME from 36:00 for 5 minutes to ask students to note down the technology changes and characteristics of agribusiness. They also simply enjoy the stunning visuals! You have to watch this video in Youtube.
Student Activity_Synthesis and Processes_Innovation Diffusion
Study the following diagram which has been adapted from Hägerstrand’s innovation curve and shows the penetration rate of an innovation within two places.
Annotate the diagram to suggest reasons for the lag in innovation penetration between Place A and Place B
Student Activity_Synthesis and Processes_The Expansion of Large Scale Dam Construction
Watch the following animation, which shows the global history of large reservoir dam construction and answer the questions (based on the trend) on the worksheet provided.
Student Activity - Green Revolution - Places and Proceses
Watch the following video and note down the chronology of wheat production in India and the impact of green revolution techniques.
Discuss the other technologies needed alongside green revolution seeds for it to succeed
Student Activity_Synthesis and Processes_ Global Dam Construction and the Diffusion Curve
Study the graph below and explain how global dam construction can be used to illustrate the diffusion curve
Source: adapted from Lehner et al (2011).
Student Activity _Processes_Types of Diffusion
The following diagrams show how ideas and innovations can diffuse away from their point of origin.
Watch the the two youtube clips below and try to identify which type of diffusion is at work.
Deforestation (opening up) in Randonia, Brazil.
Glyphosate Pesticide Use 1992-2011, USA
Source: US Geological Society
Student Activity_Synthesis and Processes_Factors influencing the Diffusion of GM Crops
Study the map below, which shows the global production of GM crops by hectare in different regions.
- Where do you think GM production began?
- Is there any clear pattern of diffusion?
- Why do you think Europe has developed relatively little GM crops?
- What other factors do you think have limited the diffusion of GM crops?
Source: The Guardian
Student Activity_ Synthesis and Processes_Factors that Influence the Diffusion of Deforestation
Watch the following youtube clip on rates of deforestation in the Amazon.
- Identify the main factors you think led to deforestation and the expansion of farming into the Amazon.
- What barriers to expansion are identified?
Student Activity_Processes, Spatial Interactions and Possibilities_Barriers or Bridges?
Using the card sort attempt to classify the factors under the headings provided. For each heading identify the barriers and bridges to diffusion
Identify named examples that match up with each of the ideas presented in the cards