The Social Side of Soils; a Farmer Centred Analysis on the Adoption of Cover Crops

Allen, Paige Nadine Gennings
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University of Guelph

Within agricultural research there exists a gap related to the representation and incorporation of social and cultural factors. Specifically, when discussing a farmer's decision-making associated with the adoption process. Previous literature examining farmers motivations for adoption primarily focused on the economic and environmental aspects. Therefore, this research investigates the role that social factors and support services have on decision-making related to the choice to adopt or not adopt cover crops. This study takes a social constructivist approach utilizing a qualitative methodology, to conduct in-depth interviews with 16 southern Ontario grain farmers who have adopted, or not-adopted cover crops for improved soil health. This research found that social factors such as interpersonal relationships, personal values and beliefs, as well as level of organizational involvement all impacted a farmers decision related to cover crop use. This research also found inconsistencies amongst access to resources, and challenges associated with cover crop support services.

Cover Crops, Sustainable Agriculture, Farmer's Perspective, Land Management Practices, Adoption Process, Social and Cultural Factors