Decoding and leveraging the farmer messenger effect to accelerate the adoption of critical edge-of-field conservation practices

Jul 2023


Researchers, conservationists and policy makers have extensive knowledge regarding the incentives and barriers for working-land conservation practices. However, in contrast, there is much less understanding regarding what induces or inhibits landowners’ and farmers’ adoption of edge-of-field practices.


Researchers will build on the 2021 INRC project “Identifying the barriers and strategies to accelerate the adoption of critical Edge-of-field Conservation Practices: A Farmer-Centric Integrated Research & Extension Approach.” This proposed project will further decode and unpack the messenger effect in encouraging farmers to adopt critical EOF conservation practices.


Activity for this project will include:

  1. Researchers will work on videos and infographics that adopt more of a transportive narrative style.
  2. More than 4,000 individuals farming in the Des Moines and Iowa River watersheds will be surveyed with split sample design featuring different messengers and messages about EOF practice adoption and corresponding environmental benefits. Specifically, the project will examine the following questions:
    1. Do farmers react differently to a female vs. male early farmer adopter who is narrating the messages about EOF practices?
    2. Is a factsheet still preferred to a video even when the video is more engaging, tells a more effective story and has added supplemental footage that illustrates the flora and fauna that are a part of some EOF practices?
    3. Can we design the survey questions to enhance farmers’ knowledge of these less-well-known and often-mistaken EOF practices?
    4. Can we tell the “story” of these practices to be more impactful?

Project Updates

Note: Project reports published on the INRC website are often revised from researchers' original reports to increase consistency.

December 2023

This project started in September. We have established timeline for survey and also discussed elements of the videos we need for the on-line survey. We are also developing the survey.

Water Quality Proposals related to INRC funded work submitted for funding  - USDA NIFA, research/extension project. We are expanding on the idea of message and messenger. The project will include two institutions in Alabama and is led by Cornell in New York.