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Farming with reduced synthetic chemicals in North Carolina

  • Molly Anderson (a1)

Abstract

The primary objectives of this study were to describe the various pest control and soil fertility management strategies used by North Carolina farmers and to characterize the types of farms and farmers using each strategy. In 1988, a survey was mailed to farmers who had shown interest in alternative methods and a randomly selected control group of conventional farmers. Cluster analysis on crops, inputs, and cultural practices used by crop farmers in the combined sample showed that they fall into three distinct groups. Very few members of the first group apply standard synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Instead, more than three-quarters of them use cover crops, compost, organic mulch, commercial fertilizers and pesticides labeled as “organic”, resistant varieties, hand weeding, mechanical cultivation, scouting, and biological pest controls. More than half of the second group did not use any nutrient and pest management inputs or practices except synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and lime. More than three-quarters of the third group reported use of synthetic fertilizers, synthetic herbicides, and lime, but also employed most of the cultural practices reported by alternative farmers. However, they less frequently used labor-intensive practices (such as manuring, mechanical cultivation, and hand weeding) and information-intensive practices (such as scouting and companion planting). Information sources, concerns about farm chemicals, and length of farming experience discriminated better than other socioeconomic factors and farm characteristics between farmers who use conventional chemical inputs and those who use alternative practices. Group 1 farmers differed from Group 3 farmers most sharply in that they rank the cost of pest control products and their extension agents' advice lower, have lower farm incomes, read more information sources promoting reduced synthetic chemicals, own more of the land they operate, and have less farming experience. The only factors significantly discriminating Groups 1 and 2 were that Group 1 fanners rank the importance of their extension agents' recommendations lower and effects of chemical products on birds and wildlife higher, read more reduced-chemical information sources, and have less farming experience.

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Farming with reduced synthetic chemicals in North Carolina

  • Molly Anderson (a1)

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