American Journal of Alternative Agriculture

Articles

Factors affecting the adoption of conservation tillage on clay soils in southwestern Ontario, Canada

Johanna Wandela1 and John Smithersa2 c1

a1 Ph.D. candidate, Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario NIG 2W1, Canada.

a2 Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario NIG 2W1, Canada.

Abstract

Despite significant progress in promoting the wider use of conservation tillage systems among farmers in Ontario, recent evidence suggests that adoption levels remain low overall, and especially low in those areas where agricultural soils are predominantly clay-based. Given the prominence of cash-crop agriculture in these regions, there is continuing interest in understanding the reasons for non-adoption in these areas, and in identifying strategies that would result in greater use of conservation tillage systems. This paper reports on an empirical analysis of conservation tillage adoption among a sample of 50 farmers in Lambton County, Ontario. The purpose of the research was to document and explain variations in the use of conservation tillage, and to assess prospects for increasing the adoption of this technology. A statistical analysis revealed that personal and attitudinal factors were largely unrelated to decisions concerning the use of conservation tillage. Instead, significant factors related to the scale of the farm operation as reflected in both farm size and sales, and in the nature of the farming system itself Subsequent analysis of farmers' stated motivations and perceived barriers suggests that inertia and uncertainty act as impediments to adoption. The findings point to the need for site-specific and farm system-specific information on the performance of this technology, and to the importance of benefits that are readily observable and communicable within local farming communities.

Key words

  • agricultural sustainability;
  • farmer attitudes;
  • innovation adoption research

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author is J. Smithers (jsmither@uoguelph.ca).