There is considerable literature on various technical and natural sciences aspects of digitalization in agriculture. Most efforts in this area have focused on robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data, internet of things, systems design, and other topics related to technical optimization of farm production and food systems. Ethical innovation issues and principals have also been areas for international research in this emerging field of agricultural technology (Bronson 2019, Eastwood et al. 2019, Fleming et al. 2019, Klerkx et al. 2020, and Lajoie-O’Malley et al. 2020). There is now a growing need for the empirical assessment of responsible and ethical practices to examine their societal and sustainability impact.
Several ethical issues have been raised by researchers and agricultural practitioners regarding the digital farming technology development processes and outcomes. For instance, the changing role of actors in the food supply chain and its impact on innovation systems and public-private partnership, issues related to governance such as accountability, oversight, and information sharing, concerns regarding fairness, transparency, and reliability of data-driven farm technologies, and the need for best practices that foster inclusiveness, trust, equal opportunity and diversity are only some concerns that have been highlighted by researchers and practitioners. These and many other considerations illustrate the need for practices that consider responsible innovation that foster building agriculture technologies that are relevant, robust, trustable, and socially desirable. This is where this special issue will contribute – by bringing together a collection of papers that report novel approaches and empirical experiences in this realm.