Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Barriers to adoption of sustainable agriculture practices: Change agent perspectives

  • Joysee M. Rodriguez (a1), Joseph John Molnar (a1), Robin A. Fazio (a1), Emily Sydnor (a1) and Mecca J. Lowe (a1)...

Abstract

Conventional agriculture systems of production often lead to environmental degradation, economic problems and even social conflict. The efficacy of agriculture systems conducive to the economic, environmental and social sustainability of farming operations has been demonstrated, yet the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices is not widespread. This qualitative study is based on a web-based survey instrument designed to elicit the barriers to adoption of sustainable agriculture practices (SAP) perceived by a positional and network sample of 269 change agents working with farmers in the US South. The analysis examines the general proposition that reluctance to change to SAP is an overused rationale of change agents that tends to mask real barriers that we endeavor to elicit in the survey. It was found that despite having support from technical assistance providers, farmers are rarely adopting SAP. Change agents often are not well prepared to attend to farmers' needs regarding SAP, particularly the needs of specific farming situations. Thus, farmers often struggle to obtain accurate information about the benefits of SAP. Government support programs often fail to encourage adoption due to lack of funding, inappropriate design and ineffective targeting of incentives. Reluctance to change is frequently mentioned by change agents, but more as a way of blaming farmers for nonadoption than explaining the often tangible reasons for their behaviors. Social barriers, land tenure, infrastructure and incompatibility are other significant impediments to adoption. Strategies such as improved management of the existing information, careful design of economic support programs and extension efforts addressed to change agents themselves could help overcome some of the barriers identified by change agents.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: molnajj@auburn.edu

References

Hide All
1Caswell, M., Fuglie, K., Ingram, C., Jans, S., and Kascak, C. 2001. Adoption of Agricultural Production Practices: Lessons Learned from the US Department of Agriculture Area Studies Project. Agricultural Economic Report No. AER792. 116 pp. Available at Web site http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AboutPDF.htm (verified 10 July 2008).
2Derpsch, R. 1998. Historical Review of No-tillage Cultivation of Crops. Available at Web site http://www.fao.org/ag/ags/agse/3ero/harare/partii/21Derp.htm (verified 20 September 2007).
3Horrigan, L., Lawrence, R.S., and Walker, P. 2002. How sustainable agriculture can address the environmental and human health harms of industrial agriculture. Environmental Health Perspectives 110:445456.
4USDA-National Agriculture Statistics Service. 2005. NASS FY 2003 and Revised FY2002 Annual Performance Plans. Available at Web site http://www.usda.gov/nass (verified 10 August 2007).
5Vanclay, F. and Lawrence, G. 1994. Farmer rationality and the adoption of environmentally sound practices; a critic of the assumptions of traditional agricultural extension. The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension 1:1–5. Available at Web site http://library.wur.nl/ejae/v1n1-5html (verified 23 July 2007).
6Hooks, G.M., Napier, T.L., and Carter, M.V. 1983. Correlates of adoption behaviors: the case of farm technologies. Rural Sociology 48(2):308323.
7Nowak, P. 1991. Farmer adoption of production technologies. In Crop Residue Management for Conservation. Proceedings of the Soil and Water Conservation Society National Conference, Lexington, KY, 89 August 1991, p. 31–41.
8Wandel, J. and Smithers, J. 2000. Factors affecting the adoption of conservation tillage on clay soils in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 15(4):181188.
9Roling, N.G. and Jiggins, J. 1994. Policy paradigm for sustainable farming. Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension 1(1):2343. Available at Web site http://library.wur.nl/ejae/v1n1-5.html (verified 22 June 2005).
10Cary, J.W., Webb, T., and Barr, N.F. 2001. The adoption of sustainable practices: some new insights. Land and Water Australia, Canberra. Available at Web site http://www.lwa.gov.au/downloads/final_reports/BRR19.pdf (verified 5 September 2005).
11Norman, D., Janke, R., Freyenberger, S., Schurle, B., and Kok, H. 1997. Defining and implementing sustainable agriculture. Kansas Sustainable Agriculture Series 1:114.
12Young, D.L. 1989. Policy barriers to sustainable agriculture. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 4:135143.
13Bell, M.M., Carolan, M.S., Mayerfeld, D., and Exner, R. 2001. Professional development for the adoption of sustainable agriculture on rented land. Final Research Report. Department of Sociology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA.
14Paulson, D.D. 1995. Minnesota extension agents' knowledge and views of alternative agriculture. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 10(3):122128.
15Schneeberger, W., Darnhofer, I., and Eder, M. 2002. Barriers to the adoption of organic farming by cash-crop producers in Austria. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 17(1):2431.
16Ikerd, J.E., Osburn, D., and Owsley, J.C. 1997. Some Missouri farmers' perspectives of sustainable agriculture. Department of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO. Available at Web site http://www.ssu.agri.missouri.edu/faculty/jikerd/papers/tsu-surv.htm (verified 15 April 2005).
17Diver, S. 1996. Toward a sustainable agriculture. New Renaissance 6(2):1921. Available at Web site http://www.ru.org/artagri.html (verified 28 May 2005).
18Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. 2003. Exploring sustainability in agriculture. Available at Web site http://www.sare.org/publications/explore/index.htm (verified 15 August 2005).
19de Souza Filho, H.M. 1997. The Adoption of Sustainable Agricultural Technologies: A Case Study in the State of Espirito Santo, Brazil. Ashgate Publishing, Brookfield, VT.
20Gamon, J., Harrold, N., and Creswell, J. 1994. Educational delivery methods to encourage adoption of sustainable practices. Journal of Agricultural Education 35(1):3842.
21Pannell, D.J. 1998. Social and economic challenge to the development of complex farming systems. Sustainability and Economics in Agriculture (SEA) Working Paper No. 97–02. University of Western Australia, WA, Nedlands, WA, Australia. Available at Web site http://www.crcsalinity.com.aunewsletter/SeaNews/spap972.htm (verified 21 September 2008).
22Young, T. 2003. Adoption of sustainable agricultural technologies: economic and non-economic determinants. ESRC Global Environmental Change Programme. Available at Web site http://www.sussex.ac.uk/Units/gec/pubs/briefing/brief-21.htm (verified 1 May 2005).
23Northwest Area Foundation. 2004. The Adoption of Sustainable Agriculture: Meeting the Challenge. Available at Web site http://www.nwaf.org/pubs/pubs_row_06.htm (verified 17 March 2007).
24Agunga, R.A. 1995. What Ohio extension agents say about sustainable agriculture. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 5(3):169187.
25Soil and Water Conservation Society. 1995. Sustainable agriculture. Available at Web site http://www.swcs.org/t_publicaffairs_sustainable.htm (verified 13 June 2004).
26Pretty, J. 2001. Farmer-based agroecological technology. International Food Policy Research Institute. Washington, DC. Available at Web site www.ifpri.org/2020/focus/focus07/focus07_02.htm (verified 26 April 2005).
27Rawson, J.M. 1995. Sustainable agriculture. CRS Report for Congress 95–1062. National Library for the Environment. Available at Web site http://www.ncseonline.org (verified 17 March 2004).
28Antle, J.M. and Diagana, B. 2003. Creating incentives for the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices: the role of carbon sequestration. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 85(5):11781184.
29Arellanes, P. and Lee, D.R. 2003. The determinants of adoption of sustainable agriculture technologies: evidence from the hillsides of Honduras. The 25th International Conference of Agricultural Economists, 1116 August 2003, Durban, South Africa.
30Reed, M. 2004. More than just fashionable foods: the importance of social sciences in organic research. Organic-Research, March 2004. p. 1N–5N. Available at Web site http://www.Organic-Research.com (verified 17 March 2004).
31Marra, M., Pannell, D.J., and Ghadim, A.A. 2004. The economics of risk, uncertainty, and learning in the adoption of new agricultural technologies: where are we on the learning curve? SEA Working Paper No. 01–10. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.
32Vanclay, F. and Lawrence, G. 1995. Agricultural extension as social welfare. Rural Society 5(1):2033. Available at Web site http://www.csu.edu.au/research/crsr/ruralsoc/v5n1p20.htm (verified 15 March 2005).
33Dyrmundsson, O.R. 2000. Organic agriculture under northern conditions: Iceland. The 13th International Scientific Conference, 2831 August 2000, Basel, Switzerland. Available at Web site http://www.organic-research.com/research/papers/iceland.asp (verified 2 April 2004).
34Texas Environmental Profiles. 2004. Sustainable Agriculture. Available at Web site http://www.texasep.org/html/lnd/lnd_2agr_susdev.html (verified 17 March 2004).
35Bearenklau, K. 2005. Toward and understanding of technology adoption: risk, learning, and neighborhood effects. Land Economics 81(1):119.
36Khanna, M., Millock, K., and Zilberman, D. 1999. Sustainability, technology and incentives. In Casey, F., Schmitz, A., Swinton, S., and Zilberman (, D.eds). Flexible Incentives for the Adoption of Environmental Technologies in Agriculture. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. p. 97118.
37Trochim, W.M.K. 2001. The Research Methods Knowledge Base. Atomic Dog Publishing, Cincinnati, OH.
38Ritchie, J. and Lewis, J. 2003. Qualitative Research Practice: A Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers. Cromwell, UK.
39Campbell, D. 1997. Community-controlled economic development as a strategic vision for the sustainable agriculture movement. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 12:3744.
40Conservation Technology Information Center. 2008. Conservation Tillage, Nutrient Management Planning, Top Farmers' Best Management Practices. Press Release—30 January, 2008. Available at Web site http://www.conservationinformation.org/?action=about_news_topbmpjan08 (verified 11 July 2008).

Keywords

Barriers to adoption of sustainable agriculture practices: Change agent perspectives

  • Joysee M. Rodriguez (a1), Joseph John Molnar (a1), Robin A. Fazio (a1), Emily Sydnor (a1) and Mecca J. Lowe (a1)...

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed