- Ronald B. Compton, The ARA Consulting Group Inc. formerly The DPA Group Inc., Toronto, Ontario
Evaluation Summary (Tech. Transfer Report Summaries)
View / Download Final Report [114 KB pdf]
Associated SWEEP/LSP Research
Completed: June, 1988
program evaluation, questionnaire, survey, SWEEP, awareness, soil quality,
water quality, conservation ethic
The survey results indicate that decisions regarding a change in farm
management planning are based on economics. Section 3.3.4 indicates that
the farmer is concerned about how a change in conservation practices will
make his operation more efficient and profitable. Question 33 asked whether
or not farm managers considered soil and water quality conservation issues
when planning their budget for a new year. Only 31 percent of respondents
indicated that they did, while 54 percent stated that they made no budget
allowances for conservation practices. However, these figures could be misleading
because many of the respondents already were using some conservation practices
and did not feel that they could afford to make further financial sacrifices.
Some of the farmers who answered no indicated that such considerations were
beyond their current financial means. These respondents did consider soil
and water quality conservation issues when planning, but clearly felt that
economics was the current priority. Therefore, we believe more farmers consider
management practices in their budget then the responses to question 33 would
Another management planning issue concerns conservation practices used
by the farmer on leased land. Thirty-three percent of the farmers surveyed
indicate that part or all of their farm is rented. However, of these farmers
who use rented land, only 51 percent indicate that their landlord is interested
in soil and water conservation issues and 32 percent of these landlords
have actually invested money in conservation practices. While 72 percent
of the farmers surveyed take the same approach in considering conservation
practices for rented land as they do for their own property, only 10 percent
stated that they are obligated to use soil and water conservation practices
in their lease agreement. For 54 percent of the renting farmers, the length
of their lease is one year. Many farmers have indicated in their comments
(see Appendix C) that conservation practices are not profitable on rented
land because of the short length of the lease. Therefore, this would indicate
that management planning for land that is continually leased on a short
term basis may be less oriented to the use of conservation practices.
In summary, the analysis indicates that there is a wide prevalence of
the conservation ethic in southwestern Ontario. Farmers are aware and concerned
over the impacts of soil and water quality problems both on their own farms
and the general environment. Soil erosion, run-off, and compaction are of
particular concern among southwestern Ontario farmers. Furthermore, survey
respondents are responsive to these soil and water quality concerns; the
survey indicates not only that most farmers currently use conservation practices
on their farms but also a willingness to adopt new conservation techniques.
Barriers to implementing conservation practices on farms are based on economics,
and reflect not only a lack of money and time to improve their land practices
but also an uncertainty of how the change will affect the profitability
of the farm.
(From Technology Transfer Report Summaries - A. Hayes, L. Cruickshank, Co-Chairs)
The purpose of the study was to determine from the farmers of the SWEEP
area: their level of awareness regarding soil and water quality issues,
attitudes towards conservation and the extent of the conservation ethic.
A questionnaire was mailed to 1,196 farms representative of the enterprise
mix and income levels of the 13 counties in the SWEEP area in 1987. A response
rate of 20% or 241 farmers replied to the 7 page questionnaire. The questionnaire
had two sections: one on the applicant's demographic and farm information
and the second asked questions regarding attitudes, knowledge and perceptions.
Data analyses were rather simple. Most multiple response and likert scale
information was presented in terms of the percentage of responses. Qualitative
responses were listed in the reports appendix. Multivariate analyses were
not conducted due to a lack of 'in-depth' information from each applicant.
The results suggest an inherent stewardship ethic with survey respondents.
The respondents to this survey were aware and concerned about soil and water
quality problems on their farms. Soil erosion and compaction were noted
concerns mentioned by most respondents. Most farmers are trying to address
these problems with conservation practices such as crop rotation, tile drainage
and windbreaks. Fewer were practising conservation tillage, no-till or had
erosion control structures. Farmers consider soil and water problems in
their farm planning but find that barriers to change, particularly financial,
prevent them from effectively addressing the problems.
The investigators are forthcoming with the limitations of mailed questionnaires.
Mailed questionnaires are not designed for in-depth case study work: the
interpretation of multivariate analyses based on questionnaire data is limited.
Further, questionnaires are answered mostly by those with special interest
in the topic area or by those with something to say: this makes extrapolation
of the results questionable. Moreover, this was considered a baseline study,
with full intentions to re-survey after SWEEP is finished. Considering the
limitations of this instrument together with the fact it would be difficult
to attain objectivity, randomness and a comparable group - it is questionable
why this instrument was chosen for this purpose.
The investigators do, however, recognize the limitations of this form
of study and provide helpful insight and verifications regarding the attitudes
and perceptions of some SWEEP area farmers.
- SWEEP Report #0 - Cropping, Tillage and Land
Management Practices in Southwestern Ontario 1986
- SWEEP Report #6 - A Survey of Crop Residue
In Southwestern Ontario 1987
- SWEEP Report #8 - Social Structure and the
Choice of Cropping Technology: Influence of Personal Networks on the Decision
to Adopt Conservation Tillage
- SWEEP Report #9 - Conservation Practices in
Southwestern Ontario Agriculture: Barriers to Adoption
Future Research: ( ) indicates reviewers suggestion for
priority, A - high, C - low.
Further study is planned at the end of the SWEEP to contrast results from
Thursday, May 19, 2011 12:58:10 PM