Farmers' Decision Processes And Adoption Of Conservation Tillage
In a transect survey of crop residue levels in 1995 and 1996, two Minnesota counties had very different percentages of cropland with desired residue cover even though the soil types were similar. To gain a better understanding of the reasons behind this difference, the farmers in these two counties were surveyed about their use or lack of use of conservation tillage practices. A statistical logit analysis of survey responses showed farmers are more apt to adopt conservation tillage if they are larger; are more concerned about erosion on their land; have made a recent major investment in the farm; use other producers for tillage information; have the management skill for conservation tillage; and believe conservation tillage will fit with their production goals and the physical setting of their farm. Two counterintuitive findings are the negative effects of the ease of finding information and the degree of control of the adoption decision. The costs and labor requirements of conservation tillage were important but not as statistically significant as those factors just listed. Some variables, that are often listed as potentially important factors, were not found to be important in this survey. These included the long-term viability of the farm; the age, education, and experience of the farmer; the debt level of the farm; whether a family member wanted to continue farming; the proportion of land rented; the use of other sources for tillage information; the complexity of conservation tillage practices; the producer's planning horizon; the risk of negative returns; the availability of support for conservation tillage systems; and the quality of conservation tillage information.
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