Why do farmers adopt conservation practices? Do green payments help? A case study of the Lower Roanoke, North Carolina

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2006: $9,999.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Grant Recipient: Duke University
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Lynn Maguire
Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment


  • Agronomic: corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans, wheat
  • Additional Plants: tobacco


  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community services, employment opportunities, social capital, social networks, social psychological indicators, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    This research project will present a case study of 16 different types of farm operators in a Conservation Security Program watershed, the Lower Roanoke in eastern North Carolina, to show (1) why they adopted conservation practices, (2) how the landscape, community, and farm characteristics influence adoption and (3) whether the Conservation Security Program has changed these dynamics. These lessons learned from the first federal green payments program will be beneficial for furthering the discussion about how green payment programs can meet conservation and farm support objectives.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. To determine why farmers have adopted or not adopted conservation practices in the Lower Roanoke Watershed.
    2. To determine whether the Conservation Security Program marked an increase in farmer innovation and/or an increase in conservation awareness in the watershed.
    3. To determine how farmers define their environmental impacts and whether this influences their adoption behavior.
    4. To compare the findings from the 16 case studies with other adoption innovation research and with the USDA national survey.
    5. To provide the local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and case study participants with conclusions drawn from the research.
    6. To contribute to national dialogue about the future of green payments.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.