Conservation Practices Adoption by Agricultural Landowners

Agricultural pollution of surface and ground water is a serious problem in the United States. The United States government plans to spend nearly $13 billion over the next six years (FY 2003-2008) to prevent and clean up pollution derived from crops, livestock, and other aspects of contemporary American agriculture (Rey, Penn, Knight, and Little, 2002). These conservation policies rely on the cooperation of the individual farmer to be effective. Yet, not enough is known about what influences agricultural landowners to adopt conservation measures. The factors that promote agricultural landowners to adopt appropriate conservation measures (or have their farm operators implement) must be explored to provide information on the ability to change behavior and the policy tools that are most effective to increase agricultural land stewardship. Such information helps to test the validity of present government conservation programs and to develop any needed reforms.
Two different research methodologies are used to investigate conservation practice adoption. First, the findings of an American Farmland Trust survey of 1,617 landowners in five states are analyzed via logistic regression to identify variables associated with an increased incidence of conservation practice use. Second, a subset of the original research population was re-interviewed over the phone. Most previous studies of conservation adoption have relied entirely on standardized surveys. However, it has been suggested that due to the inability of statistical models based on such surveys to predict adoption behavior, a more exploratory approach must be taken (Napier, 2001). Therefore, through open-ended questioning, I asked farmers, why they did or did not adopt conservation practices.

Downloadable Documents: 
Author: 
Lela M. Long
Publisher: 
DeKalb, IL: American Farmland Trust
Page Numbers: 
113
Publication Date: 
August 1, 2003
Literature Category: 
Reports and Studies