Conservation practices in southwestern Ontario agriculture: Barriers to adoption

Smithers, John
Smit, Barry
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Agriculture Canada

Concern over the degradation of soil and water resources has prompted the development of numerous technological advancements in agriculture. These technologies, combined with the resurrection of some traditional farming methods, provide the means for using agricultural lands in ways that minimize environmental degradation. Despite these positive developments, technological advancements are of little value until they are applied. Consequently, there now exists considerable interest in identifying and evaluating the factors that influence technology transfer. Soil conservation research in Ontario and other jurisdictions suggests that many farmers are aware of the existence of soil conservation technologies, and are favourably disposed toward land stewardship. Despite these facts, the adoption of conservation technologies and practices has not been widespread. It is now evident that positive attitudes and awareness are necessary, but not sufficient, to ensure adoption. The conclusion is that other forces are constraining many farmers from acting on their pro-conservation attitudes. The purpose of this research is to identify barriers to conservation in agricultural land use, and to assess the prospects for their removal. The major objectives of the study are: 1. to identify the nature and extent of conservation practices by farmers in Southwestern Ontario, 2. to identify, characterize and evaluate the major barriers to the use of conservation practices, and 3. to consider factors which promote and/or obstruct adoption of soil conservation practices for policies and programs.

Soil and Water Environmental Enhancement Program (SWEEP)
soil degradation, water quality, soil conservation, land use, agriculture