The role of advisory services in farmers’ decision making about the uptake of a technological innovation (E-bells) in Norway

Sogn og Fjordane, Norway


The county of Sogn og Fjordane is located on the west coast of Norway. The county has large fields with big mountain areas. Compared to other counties in Norway, it is steep, has rough terrain, smaller farms and much larger grazing areas.

Region map

The county has the third largest share of employment in agriculture in Norway. Livestock, cattle, sheep, and in some places, goat or fruit and berries are important. Half of the land is pasture for livestock farming (sheep are most important). Many sheep farmers are part-time farmers with small holdings. For some, the farm is more like a hobby and farmers are not focused on production because they are busy with their main job.

This case was chosen because it combined cooperation for land management with the introduction of a new technology. Electronic bells (e-bells) are a new technology that has the potential to increase the sustainable use of mountain pastures, but the technology is still not fully developed.

Study focus

The study focused on implementing a new technology, electronic bells (e-bells), that made it possible to trace sheep during the grazing season. Many sheep farmers experienced big losses in 2009 because of large predators and the county administration started a project to offer sheep farmers’ electronic bells at a subsidized price to test if the e-bells could help reduce the loss of animals.

Sheep farmers in the region are organised into pasture groups which have the right to use specific pastures in the mountains.  Only a formal pasture group could apply for subsidies for e-bells on behalf of its members. In total 21 interviews were conducted with sheep farmers in Sogn og Fjordane, 19 of which were adopters of the e-bells and two were non-adopters. In addition, five AKIS expert interviews were conducted.

Full report is available here:

Partner and responsible person contact

Ruralis – Institute for Rural and Regional Research

Gunn-Turid Kvam,

Lessons learned

  1. There are generally few resources available for advising sheep farmers in this region. Consequently the farmers have relied upon advising each other (peer-to-peer) via their Norwegian Sheep and Goat Organisation, a national meat producers cooperative and the local pasture groups they belong to.
  2. The small high-tech companies that sell the e-bells are a potentially important source of advice, but they are located far from the region and therefore not accessible to the farmers.
  3. The diffusion of the e-bell technology has therefore only been successful with the support of the county administration.
  4. Those farmers with e-bells find them very useful and they have learned a lot about where their sheep move during the grazing season. However, without targeted support and advice the long-term viability of the e-bells is likely to be limited because the price is too high for individual farmers and it is not economically viable to invest in them.