Farmer Participation 2: Tradeoffs Between Production and Conservation

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group, Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, Rural Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Grand Ballroom B, Astor, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Landon Yoder
Chairs: Landon Yoder


Many countries have invested billions of dollars in conservation efforts in agriculture to lessen the environmental harms that are generated by farming. Despite this substantial investment, voluntary and mandatory participation in agri-environment schemes has remained relatively low and delivered mixed conservation outcomes (Kuhfuss et al. 2016; Carlisle 2016; Ribaudo 2015, Gunningham & Sinclair 2005). Given farmers’ central role in land management and the extensive environmental changes caused by agriculture globally (Foley et al. 2005), understanding what motivates and mediates farmers’ adoption of conservation measures remains a crucial research need (De Loë et al. 2015).

Substantial research has already explored why farmers participate and demonstrated that voluntary adoption of conservation measures cannot be reduced to simple economic calculations, though financial benefits and costs remain important to decision-making (Selinske et al. 2017; Siebert et al. 2006; Pannel et al. 2006, Baumgart-Getz et al. 2012). More recent research has focused on how the social dynamics in farming communities shape norms around what constitutes good farming practices, how this mediates social standing within farming communities, and the ways in which norms and “good farmer” identities can lead to resistance to some types of on-farm conservation measures (McGuire et al. 2013; Burton & Paragahawewa 2011; Burton 2004). Yet, many conservation approaches rely on contracts between farmers and government and fail to account for these social dynamics (Burton & Paragahawewa 2011).

More research is needed to examine how such social dynamics and conservation priorities are heterogeneous based on farms’ business structures (e.g., smallholder, large family farm, or shareholder-owned agribusiness) (Villanueva et al. 2017) and environmental stewardship values (Prokopy 2011), spatial matching of conservation measures within farm boundaries and targeting geographically important areas for conservation (Zhang et al. 2016; Arbuckle 2013), and how different institutional arrangements that go beyond voluntary conservation contracts mediate farmer cooperation to address negative externalities arising from agriculture (Del Corso et al. 2017; Kuhfuss et al. 2016; Marshall 2009; Lubell 2004).

We welcome both qualitative and quantitative contributions that explore (but are not limited to):

• What motivates or constrains farmers’ participation in formal and informal conservation efforts;
• How different business structures, from smallholder to large family farm to corporate agribusinesses, shape decisionmaking and conservation outcomes;
• The ways in which different collective-action needs and efforts inform farmer priorities that support or undermine conservation aims;
• The role that institutional arrangements or policies, such as regulatory requirements, subsidies, or collaborative approaches, play in mediating farmer participation and cooperation around conservation priorities; or
• How different types of agri-environmental measures (e.g., no-till, buffers, etc.) interact with farm production and on-farm biophysical factors to influence adoption or non-adoption.


Arbuckle Jr, J. G. 2013. Farmer Attitudes Toward Proactive Targeting of Agricultural Conservation Programs. Society and Natural Resources 26:625–641.

Baumgart-Getz, A., Prokopy, L., & Floress, K. (2012). Why farmers adopt best management practice in the United States: A meta-analysis of the adoption literature. Journal of Environmental Management, 96(1), 17-25.

Burton, R. J. F. 2004. Seeing through the “good farmer”s’ eyes: Towards developing an understanding of the social symbolic value of “productivist” behaviour. Sociologia Ruralis 44 (2):195–215.

Burton, R. J. F., and U. H. Paragahawewa. 2011. Creating culturally sustainable agri-environmental schemes. Journal of Rural Studies 27:95–104.

Carlisle, L. 2016. Factors influencing farmer adoption of soil health practices in the United States: A narrative review. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 40 (6):583–613.

De Loë, R., D. Murray, and H. C. Simpson. 2015. Farmer perspectives on collaborative approaches for governance for water. Journal of Rural Studies 42:191–205.

Del Corso, J.-P., T. D. P. G. Nguyen, and C. Kephaliacos. 2017. Acceptance of a payment of ecosystem services scheme: The decisive influence of collective action. Environmental Values 26:177–202.

Foley, J. A., R. DeFries, G. P. Asner, C. Barford, G. Bonan, S. R. Carpenter, F. S. Chapin, M. T. Coe, G. C. Daily, H. K. Gibbs, J. H. Helkowski, T. Holloway, E. A. Howard, C. J. Kucharik, C. Monfreda, J. A. Patz, I. C. Prentice, N. Ramankutty, and P. K. Snyder. 2005. Global Consequences of Land Use. Science 309:570–574.

Kuhfuss, L., R. Préget, S. Thoyer, and N. Hanley. 2016. Nudging farmers to enrol land into agri-environmental schemes: The role of a collective bonus. European Review of Agricultural Economics 43 (4):609–636.

Gunningham, N., & Sinclair, D. (2005). Policy Instrument Choice and Diffuse Source Pollution. Journal of Environmental Law, 17(1), 51-81

Lubell, M. 2004. Collaborative Watershed Management: A View from the Grassroots. Russell Sage Foundation.

Marshall, G. R. 2009. Polycentricity, reciprocity, and farmer adoption of conservation practices under community-based governance. Ecological Economics 68:1507–1520.

McGuire, J., L. W. Morton, and A. D. Cast. 2013. Reconstructing the Good Farmer Identity: Shifts in Farmer Identities and Farm Management Practices to Improve Water Quality. Agriculture and Human Values 30:57–69.

Pannell, D. J., G. R. Marshall, N. Barr, A. Curtis, F. Vanclay, and R. Wilkinson. 2006. Understanding and Promoting Adoption of Conservation Practices by Rural Landholders. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 46:1407–1424.

Ribaudo, M. 2015. The limits of voluntary conservation programs. Choices 30 (2):1–5.

Selinske, M. J., B. Cooke, N. Torabi, M. J. Hardy, A. T. Knight, and S. A. Bekessy. 2016. Locating financial incentives among diverse motivations for long-term private land conservation. Ecology and Society 22 (2):7.

Siebert, R., M. Toogood, and A. Knierim. 2006. Factors affecting European farmers’ participation in biodiversity policies. Sociologia Ruralis 46 (4):318–340.

Villanueva, A. J., M. Rodríguez-Entrena, M. Arriaza, and J. A. Gómez-Limón. 2017. Heterogeneity of farmers’ preferences towards agri-environmental schemes across different agricultural sub-systems. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 60 (4):684–707.

Zhang, W., R. S. Wilson, E. Burnett, E. G. Irwin, and J. F. Martin. 2016. What motivates farmers to apply phosphorus at the “right” time? Survey evidence from the Western Lake Erie Basin. Journal of Great Lakes Research 42:1343–1356.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Laurent GAZULL*, CIRAD - Environments and Societies Scientific Dept, Perrine Burnod, CIRAD - Environments and Societies Scientific Dept, Abigail Fallot, CIRAD - Environments and Societies Scientific Dept, Laurene Feintrenie, CIRAD - Environments and Societies Scientific Dept, Slim Saidi, Alter Eco, How farms’ structures and sustainability standards shape land availability for energy crops 20 10:00 AM
Presenter Jaime Barrett*, University of Delaware, Dueling Conservation Perspectives? : Agricultural conservation, local knowledge and information networks throughout the Delmarva Peninsula 20 10:20 AM
Presenter Gerald Schwarz*, Thuenen Institute, George Vlahos, Agricultural University of Athens, Enhancing the understanding of barriers and drivers of agro-ecological farming systems in the EU: Exploring contributions of a socio-ecological systems perspective 20 10:40 AM
Presenter Sara Torres*, Michigan State University, Winners and Losers in the Soy Trap 20 11:00 AM
Presenter Mingzhou QIN*, College of Envir. &PlanningHenan University-, Chengzhe QIN, Geospatial Information Science, Sch of Econ Pol & Policy Sci, UTD, Artificial Landscape impact on the river in North China Plain 20 11:20 AM

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