Adoption of Conservation Practices in Agri-Environmental Governance: Social, Institutional, and Biophysical Factors of Participation 1

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Rural Geography Specialty Group, Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, Environmental Perception and Behavioral Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, Lobby Level
Organizers: Landon Yoder, Kira Sullivan-Wiley, Martin Delaroche
Chairs: Landon Yoder

Call for Submissions

Interested applicants should send abstracts (max 250 words) to Kira Sullivan-Wiley (, Landon Yoder ( and Martin Delaroche (


Despite substantial investments in agri-environmental programs to reduce the environmental harms from agriculture, participation in these programs 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, understanding what factors mediate farmers’ participation in agri-environmental programs and adoption of conservation measures remains a crucial research need (De Loë et al. 2015). Extensive research has studied on farmer decision-making to adopt on-farm conservation practices, largely focusing on tradeoffs between farm economics and conservation investments (e.g., Helling et al. 2015). Despite the range of factors assessed in this field, it remains difficult to explain why farmers adopt or do not adopt conservation practices (Reimer et al. 2014). This is true both for voluntary adoption relating to campaigns focused on addressing an information deficit through education and training (Sullivan-Wiley & Short Gianotti 2018; Fleming & Vanclay, 2009), as well as incentivized and formal programs (e.g. Lastra-Bravo et al. 2015).

While much of this research has focused on the importance of individual decision-making and economic incentives, more work is needed to explore how social dynamics, institutional arrangements, and biophysical factors motivate or constrain conservation adoption. One growing area of research is the role of “good farmer” identities and social norms in encouraging or discouraging adoption (Burton 2004; McGuire et al. 2013). However, programs relying on subsidies or other policy incentives rarely account for existing social dynamics in their design (Burton & Paragawewa 2011; Emery & Franks 2012; Leventon et al. 2017), despite evidence that encouraging farmers to cooperate with one another on conservation can generate greater adoption rates than traditional approaches using individual contracts (Narloch et al. 2017; Del Corso et al. 2017). Lastly, conservation adoption research has rarely measured how conservation outcomes from adoption may influence farmer perceptions of efficacy and thus feed back into conservation decisions (Yoder & Roy Chowdhury 2018; Reimer et al. 2014; Boardman et al. 2017).

We invite both qualitative and quantitative papers that explore:

• The influence of farmer identity, discourses, and social norms in shaping adoption and non-adoption of conservation practices;
• The effects and interactions of voluntary incentivizes and/or regulations in agri-environmental policies and programs as they relate to conservation behavior;
• How farm productivity and biophysical factors shape the feasibility of adoption;
• The influence of feedbacks from conservation outcomes in adoption decisions;
• The role of farmer cooperation in encouraging or discouraging adoption of conservation practices;
• How government, non-profit, extension, and other conservation agents influence farmer decision-making on conservation adoption.

Call for Papers

Interested applicants should send abstracts (max 250 words) to Kira Sullivan-Wiley (, Landon Yoder ( and Martin Delaroche (


Boardman, J., S. Bateman, and S. Seymour. 2017. Understanding the influence of farmer motivations on changes to soil erosion risk on sites of former serious erosion in the South Downs National Park, UK. Land Use Policy 60:298–312.

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.

Fleming, A., & Vanclay, F. (2010). Farmer responses to climate change and sustainable agriculture: A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 30(1), 11–19.

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

Helling, A., Conner, D., Heiss, S., & Berlin, L. (2015). Economic analysis of climate change best management practices in Vermont agriculture. Agriculture, 5(3), 879-900.

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.

Lastra-Bravo, X. B., Hubbard, C., Garrod, G., & Tolón-Becerra, A. (2015). What drives farmers’ participation in EU agri-environmental schemes?: Results from a qualitative meta-analysis. Environmental Science & Policy, 54, 1-9.

Leventon, J., T. Schaal, S. Velten, J. Dänhardt, J. Fischer, D. J. Abson, and J. Newig. 2017. Collaboration or fragmentation? Biodiversity management through the common agricultural policy. Land Use Policy 64:1–12.

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.

Narloch, U., A. G. Drucker, and U. Pascual. 2017. What role for cooperation in conservation tenders? Paying farmer groups in the High Andes. Land Use Policy 63:659–671.

Reimer, A. P., A. W. Thompson, L. S. Prokopy, J. G. Arbuckle Jr, K. Genskow, D. Jackson-Smith, G. Lynne, L. McCann, L. W. Morton, and P. Nowak. 2014. People, place, behavior, and context: A research agenda for expanding our understanding of what motivates farmers’ conservation behaviors. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 69 (2):57A–61A.

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

Sullivan-Wiley, K. A., and A. G. Short Gianotti. 2018. Pursuing productivity gains and risk reduction in a multi-hazard landscape: A case study from eastern Uganda. Land Use Policy 79:671–683.

Yoder, L., and R. Roy Chowdhury. 2018. Tracing social capital: How stakeholder group interactions shape agricultural water quality restoration in the Florida Everglades. Land Use Policy 77 (September):354–361.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Landon Yoder*, Indiana University, Farmer engagement in watershed governance: The role of soil and water conservation districts in Iowa’s watershed management authorities 20 1:10 PM
Presenter Martin Delaroche*, Indiana University, The interrelations between diverse conservation decisions in a tropical soybean frontier: what are the financial and environmental tradeoffs of good agricultural practices adoption? 20 1:30 PM
Presenter Chloe Wardropper*, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Seeding a Good Farmer: The relationship between cover crop decision-making and farmer identity 20 1:50 PM
Presenter Vijay Kolinjivadi*, , Alejandra Zaga Mendez, Université du Québec en Outaouais , Jérôme Dupras, Université du Québec en Outaouais , Conserving nature to conserve production: Understanding Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) within the political economy of potato processing on Prince Edward Island, Canada 20 2:10 PM
Presenter Kira Sullivan-Wiley*, Pardee Center, Boston University, Amy Teller, IBES, Brown University, Mental maps and future imaginaries: How farmers in Bahia’s Cacau Coast are transforming rural livelihoods and challenging assumptions of a producer-forest conflict 20 2:30 PM

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