Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2010
Publication Date: 9/1/2011
Citation: Armstrong, A., Ling, E., Stedman, R., Kleinman, P.J. 2011. Adoption of the conservation reserve enhancement program in the New York City watershed: the role of farmer attitude. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 66:337-344. DOI: 10.2489/jswc.66.5.337. Interpretive Summary: Conservation practices have long been the cornerstone of water quality protection efforts in agriculture. Efforts to implement conservation practices are often hampered by farmers’ willingness to adopt certain practices. Understanding obstacles to farmer acceptance of individual practices as well as conservation programs is therefore key to improved water quality protection. This study examined factors affecting farmers' acceptance of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program in the Cannonsville Watershed of New York. Results highlight the need to develop multifaceted conservation programs that can adapt to local conditions and the attitudes of individual farmers if they are to be successful.
Technical Abstract: The applicability of the traditional adoption diffusion model to conservation practices has been debated for decades. We examine farmer adoption of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program in the context of the Cannonsville watershed, part of the New York City drinking water supply system, using the adoption diffusion framework. Although individual farmer and farm level characteristics contribute to prediction of adoption, the inclusion of locally-specific attitude variables greatly enhances the predictive power of our model. The Cannonsville watershed shares macro-level structural characteristics, such as extra-locally controlled conservation initiatives, in common with other watersheds. Using these characteristics as variables, a typology can be developed at the watershed or community level, to better measure macro-level effects on adoption behavior. As metropolitan areas across the U.S. strive to balance the maintenance of clean water resources with the support of local agricultural production initiatives, watersheds sharing these characteristics will become more common.