The application of a conventional adoption-diffusion model to the adoption of soil conservation practices by Iowa farmers: the interface of technology, social change and development
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A major negative effect of the development of American agriculture is increased rates of soil erosion. The problem of soil erosion in Iowa thus can be seen as the interface of technology, social change and development. Its resolution behooves agricultural scientists and kindred professionals to work together to facilitate an understanding of the seriousness of the problem and enhance the rapid adoption of appropriate soil conservation practices or technologies;The purpose of this dissertation, then, is to attempt to apply a conventional adoption model to predict the adoption of soil conservation practices in Iowa, using the structural-functional conceptual framework. Thus, it is postulated that the adoptability of soil conservation technologies is influenced by the personal/social characteristics of the farmers, their economic considerations, and the structural/institutional factors that govern their behavior;This is an exploratory study. The data for this study were collected by means of mailed questionnaires to 299 farmers in 39 counties in Iowa. A total of 249 acceptable questionnaires were returned, providing a response rate of 83.3%. The relationships between 20 independent variables and 4 dependent variables are determined using means, standard deviations, and percentages. The chi-square statistic is used for nominal and ordinal data, while correlation analysis is used for those variables treated as interval or proximate interval measures. Partial correlation is used as a method of control for selected variables;The results obtained indicate that, although the majority of farmers studied feel that soil erosion is a problem in Iowa, only a small proportion of them seek assistance from the Soil Conservation Service. It is also found that the rate of adoption of the four practices (no tillage, chisel plowing, forage-crop rotations, and residue management) varies between soil conservancy districts. The analyses using zero-order correlation show that the independent variables are either positively or negatively related to one or more of the practices. This tendency persists even after the partial correlation analyses. Suggestions are made for agricultural policy. The implications of the study are discussed;Finally, the relevance of soil conservation for Africa is demonstrated in the last chapter. This section serves two main purposes. First, the chapter is intended to present, in a rather discreet fashion, the requirement for a minor in technology and social change in a developing area vital to the professional interests of the author. Second, it seeks to show the international ramifications of the causes and consequences of soil erosion for world food supply.