a1 University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, Davis, CA, USA.
a2 Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis, CA, USA.
a3 UC Cooperative Extension, Santa Cruz County, Watsonville, CA, USA.
a4 UC Cooperative Extension, Stanislaus County, Modesto, CA, USA.
a5 UC Cooperative Extension, Merced County, Merced, CA, USA.
a6 Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission, Lodi, CA, USA.
a7 UC Cooperative Extension, San Joaquin County, Stockton, CA, USA.
We consider the adoption of biologically integrated agricultural practices from the perspective of farm management style. Adoption decisions for farming practices must fit into a broader farm decision-making context that incorporates economic, environmental, social, family and personal considerations, as well as use of agricultural information sources. Drawing from a study of California almond and winegrape growers, we demonstrate that management styles differ substantially among farmers, these differences affect use of information sources and adoption of biologically based practices on the farm, and such adoption does not negatively affect crop performance. We used Q-methodology, a method for eliciting qualitative data using a variant of factor analysis, to identify three distinct management styles among a purposive sample of 40 growers. The Environmental Stewards' management style places higher priority on conservation of natural resources than on getting the highest possible yields or profits. Production Maximizers, with a different style, prioritize more traditional goals of producing the highest possible yields and quality and focusing resources on the farm rather than on outside concerns. Networking Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, value learning about innovative techniques in social contexts such as informational field days, evaluate new information with a business-like attitude and enjoy off-farm interests. A two-season mail survey of farming practices and information sources demonstrated that differences in management styles affect the adoption of practices. Environmental Stewards were more likely to practice biological pest control and encourage wildlife and less likely to use the most toxic chemicals. Production Maximizers had a greater tendency to use prophylactic and broad-spectrum chemicals, while Networking Entrepreneurs preferred more innovative biological pest controls but tended to avoid time-consuming cultural practices. Production Maximizers were distinguished by less use of more social forms of communication, such as attending field days and talking with other growers. Crop health and quality indicators showed that almost all growers were managing their crops very successfully, regardless of management style or choice of practices. These results hold important implications for efforts to increase the adoption of sustainable agriculture, especially by showing that contents and methods of outreach efforts must vary to accommodate diverse farm management styles.
(Accepted July 21 2004)