, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 269-279

Use of Soil and Water Protection Practices Among Farmers in Three Midwest Watersheds

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Data were collected from 1011 farmers in three Midwestern watersheds (Ohio, Iowa, and Minnesota) to assess factors that influence the use of conservation production systems at the farm level. The “vested interests” perspective used to guide the investigation was derived from elements of social learning and social exchange theories. Respondents were asked to indicate their frequency of use for 18 agricultural production practices that could be adopted on Midwestern farms at the time of the study. Responses to the 18 items were summed to form a composite variable, termed “conservation production index,” for use as the dependent variable in multivariate analysis. Eleven independent variables were identified from the theory as likely predictors of conservation adoption, including respondents' perceptions about production costs, output and risks, and perceived importance of access to subsidies, technical assistance, and informational/educational programs. Regression analysis was used to assess the performance of the independent variables in explaining variance in the conservation production index. Explained variance in the three regression models ranged from 2% in the Minnesota watershed to 19% in the Ohio watershed. The researchers concluded that the model had limited utility in predicting adoption of conservation production systems within the three study watersheds. Findings are discussed in the context of conservation programs within the three areas.