Sources of facts and advice for farmer decision-making concerning soil conservation practices in Grant County, Wisconsin

Enz, Tammy
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This study uses diffusion theory and opinion leadership to investigate sources of facts and advice used in farmer decision-making concerning soil conservation practices. The importance of interpersonal interactions and the role of new communication technologies, including the Internet, email and the cellular telephone, as well as practical inquiry into which persons, organizations and/or media sources are important opinion leaders in the area of implementation of soil conservation were investigated. Information sources used in actual past behavior changes and information sources likely to be influential in a future hypothetical scenario were assessed.

Data for this study were gathered through a random sample mail survey of Grant County, Wisconsin rural landowners. A return rate of 48% yielded 268 usable surveys. Findings reveal that farmers use a number of sources for information concerning the adoption of soil conservation innovations, with `neighbors and other farmers,' `government agency staff' and `magazines and other publications' being the most frequently used and the most important sources throughout the decision process. Perceived trustworthiness of a source was found to be a significant predictor of perceived source influence and although 40% of respondents reported that they are not Internet users, the Internet enjoys a relatively high-perceived trustworthiness among all respondents. Among Internet users, the Internet had a very high level of trust--ranking third behind `government agency staff' and `neighbors and other farmers.'

diffusion, internet, opinion leader, soil conservation