Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

The trouble with cover crops: Farmers’ experiences with overcoming barriers to adoption

  • Gabrielle E. Roesch-McNally (a1), Andrea D. Basche (a2), J.G. Arbuckle (a3), John C. Tyndall (a4), Fernando E. Miguez (a5), Troy Bowman (a6) and Rebecca Clay (a5)...
Abstract
Abstract

Cover crops are known to promote many aspects of soil and water quality, yet estimates find that in 2012 only 2.3% of the total agricultural lands in the Midwestern USA were using cover crops. Focus groups were conducted across the Corn Belt state of Iowa to better understand how farmers confront barriers to cover crop adoption in highly intensive agricultural production systems. Although much prior research has focused on analyzing factors that help predict cover crop use on farms, there is limited research on how farmers navigate and overcome field-level (e.g. proper planting of a cover crop) and structural barriers (e.g. market forces) associated with the use of cover crops. The results from the analysis of these conversations suggest that there is a complex dialectical relationship between farmers' individual management decisions and the broader agricultural context in the region that constrains their decisions. Farmers in these focus groups shared how they navigate complex management decisions within a generally homogenized agricultural and economic landscape that makes cover crop integration challenging. Many who joined the focus groups have found ways to overcome barriers and successfully integrate cover crops into their cropping systems. This is illustrated through farmers' descriptions of their ‘whole system’ approach to cover crops management, where they described how they prioritize the success of their cover crops by focusing on multiple aspects of management, including changes they have made to nutrient application and modifications to equipment. These producers also engage with farmer networks to gain strategies for overcoming management challenges associated with cover crops. Although many participants had successfully planted cover crops, they tended to believe that greater economic incentives and/or more diverse crop and livestock markets would be needed to spur more widespread adoption of the practice. Our results further illustrate how structural and field-level barriers constrain individual actions, as it is not simply the basic agronomic considerations (such as seeding and terminating cover crops) that pose a challenge to their use, but also the broader economic and market drivers that exist in agriculturally intensive systems. Our study provides evidence that reducing structural barriers to adoption may be necessary to increase the use of this conservation practice to reduce environmental impacts associated with intensive agricultural production.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The trouble with cover crops: Farmers’ experiences with overcoming barriers to adoption
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The trouble with cover crops: Farmers’ experiences with overcoming barriers to adoption
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The trouble with cover crops: Farmers’ experiences with overcoming barriers to adoption
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: groeschmcnally@fs.fed.us
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
  • ISSN: 1742-1705
  • EISSN: 1742-1713
  • URL: /core/journals/renewable-agriculture-and-food-systems
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 16
Total number of PDF views: 257 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 278 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 13th March 2017 - 26th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.