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What are the priority research questions for digital agriculture?

Ingram, Julie; Maye, Damian; Bailye, Clive; Barnes, Andrew; Bear, Christopher; Bell, Matthew; Cutress, David; Davies, Lynfa; de Boon, Auvikki; Dinnie, Liz; Gairdner, Julian; Hafferty, Caitlin; Holloway, Lewis; Kindred, Daniel; Kirby, David; Leake, Bethany; Manning, Louise; Marchant, Ben; Morse, Aimee; Oxley, Simon; Phillips, Martin; Regan, Aine; Rial-Lovera, Karen; Rose, David; Schillings, Juliette; Williams, Fiona; Williams, Hefin; Wilson, Lucy


Julie Ingram

Damian Maye

Clive Bailye

Andrew Barnes

Christopher Bear

Matthew Bell

David Cutress

Lynfa Davies

Auvikki de Boon

Liz Dinnie

Julian Gairdner

Caitlin Hafferty

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Professor Lewis Holloway
Professor of Human Geography, Director of Research (School of Environmental Science), Chair of the Faculty of Science and Engineering Ethics Committee

Daniel Kindred

David Kirby

Bethany Leake

Louise Manning

Ben Marchant

Aimee Morse

Simon Oxley

Martin Phillips

Aine Regan

Karen Rial-Lovera

David Rose

Juliette Schillings

Fiona Williams

Hefin Williams

Lucy Wilson


There is a need to identify key existing and emerging issues relevant to digitalisation in agricultural production that would benefit from a stronger evidence base and help steer policy formulation. To address this, a prioritisation exercise was undertaken to identify priority research questions concerning digital agriculture in the UK, but with a view to also informing international contexts. The prioritisation exercise uses an established and effective participatory methodology for capturing and ordering a wide range of views. The method involves identifying a large number of participants and eliciting an initial long list of research questions which is reduced and refined in subsequent voting stages to select the top priorities by theme. Participants were selected using purposive sampling and snowballing to represent a number of sectors, organisations, companies and disciplines across the UK. They were each invited to submit up to 10 questions according to certain criteria, and this resulted in 195 questions from a range of 40 participants (largely from England with some representation from Scotland and Wales). Preliminary analysis and clustering of these questions through iterative analysis identified seven themes as follows: data governance; data management; enabling use of data and technologies; understanding benefits and uptake of data and technologies; optimising data and technologies for performance; impacts of digital agriculture; and new collaborative arrangements. Subsequent stages of voting, using an online ranking exercise and a participant workshop for in-depth discussion, refined the questions to a total of 27 priority research questions categorised into 15 gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze, across the 7 themes. The questions significantly enrich and extend previous clustering and agenda setting using literature sources, and provide a range of new perspectives. The analysis highlights the interconnectedness of themes and questions, and proposes two nexus for future research: the different dimensions of value, and the social and institutional arrangements to support digitalisation in agriculture. These emphasise the importance of interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, and the need to tackle the binary nature of current analytical frames. These new insights are equally relevant to contexts outside the UK. This paper highlights the need for research actions to inform policy, not only instrumentally by strengthening the evidence base, but also conceptually, to prompt new thinking. To our knowledge this methodology has not been previously applied to this topic.


Ingram, J., Maye, D., Bailye, C., Barnes, A., Bear, C., Bell, M., …Wilson, L. (2022). What are the priority research questions for digital agriculture?. Land use policy, 114, Article 105962.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 22, 2021
Online Publication Date Jan 8, 2022
Publication Date 2022-03
Deposit Date Jan 4, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jan 9, 2023
Journal Land Use Policy
Print ISSN 0264-8377
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 114
Article Number 105962
Keywords Digital agriculture; Digitalisation; Research priorities; Stakeholders; Smart farming; UK
Public URL


Published article (992 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

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