Multilevel analysis of farmers' adoption behaviors


Title: Sociological water quality research: quantifying factors at multiple scales that influence farmers to shift from being potential to actual adopters of conservation practices

Practice: Multi-objective

Location: Statewide

Time Period: 2022- 2024

Research Team: Suraj Upadhaya, J. Arbuckle, Lisa Schulte Moore

Project Description: There is an increasing awareness that in-field and edge-of-filed conservation practices in agriculture improve water quality and other ecosystem services, including the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Although sustaining agricultural productivity at high levels while minimizing nutrient loss is a significant challenge for modern agriculture, farmers' adoption of conservation practices can help mitigate soil degradation and water quality impairment. However, despite decades of major outreach, extension, and conservation endeavors, governmental and non-governmental organizations promoting these voluntary conservation practices still have difficulties getting farmers to adopt them. Most of the existing adoption studies typically measure whether a farmer uses a practice or not. By lumping all non-adopters into a single category, typical adoption studies miss the opportunity to examine potential adopters who may be open to or interested in adopting conservation practices. A better understanding of farmers' conservation practices and adoption behavior is essential to successfully implementing outreach interventions that improve water quality and other ecosystem outputs.

Objective: This project aims to understand which factors influence farmers to shift from potential to actual adopters of conservation practices.

Approach:  We will use data from two high-quality surveys of Iowa farmers, the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll (IFRLP) and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (INRS) farmer survey, to understand the factors that predict shifts between non-adoption, potential adoption, and actual adoption categories over time. By understanding which factors predict shifts from the potential adopter of conservation practices to the adopter, we will develop a more comprehensive understanding of farmers' adoption processes. We will integrate this understanding into extension and outreach programs to stimulate the higher adoption of conservation practices in Iowa and beyond.


Funders: Iowa Nutrient Research Center