Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
Elvia Angelica Munoz - Humboldt State University
Co-Author(s): Emily True, Rachael Roberts-Toler, and Maxwell Martin, University of Massachusetts Boston, MA Steven Gray, Michigan State University
Promoting agricultural production while maintaining the longterm environmental quality of farm resources is a major challenge in a number of rural, small-holder farming communities. Many communities often rely on input-heavy methods, such as fertilizer and pesticide use, to increase crop yield in the face of a changing climate and economic conditions. As a way to address this issue, international NGOs have promoted farming practices known as Conservation Agriculture (CA), which includes changing farming behaviors to adopt the practices of minimum tillage, cover-cropping, and intercropping. These practices are intended to improve both crop yield and farm-based income, while also maintaining long-term soil quality and soil moisture. Although CA has been promoted globally by international and national NGOs for more than forty years, recent studies indicate that long-term adoption of CA is limited, and these promoted practices are often abandoned for traditional farming methods. We suggest the long-term nonadoption of CA is related to problems associated with current agricultural development practices that do not account for the current decision-making practices of farmers. Using case study data collected from 100 farmers in two villages in eastern India, we uncover personal differences in the decision-making practices of rural farmers who adopted CA practices in terms of their perceptions of environmental change, predictions about the impacts of conservation agriculture, and self-confidence in farming skill. The ability to distinguish the differences between adopters and non-adopters will improve the education and development of CA and provide insight into the different human -dimensions that influence the adoption of sustainable farming practices in small-holder farming communities.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): I would like to thank NSF through the Belmont Forum (Award Number 1429971) for funding this research. I also thank the director of the Coastal Research in Environmental Science and Technology CREST REU, Dr. Alan Christian and the staff at University of Massachusetts, Boston for providing the lab space to conduct the study.
Faculty Advisor: Steven Gray,