More robust study designs
Burton et al. 2008
Case study from Hessen, Germany and Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Use of a conceptual framework based on Bourdieu’s notions of capital we explore how farming activities are able to generate symbolic capital, and compare this with the symbolic value of conservation work. This examines why voluntary agri-environmental programs often engender minimal attitude change towards productivity agriculture among conventional farming communities
We find that voluntary agri-environmental work returns little symbolic capital to farmers. By prescribing management practices and designating specific areas for agri-environmental work, farmers are not allowed to develop or demonstrate skilled role performance – thus inhibiting the development of embodied cultural capital. We conclude by suggesting that entrepreneurial production-target based agri-environmental schemes may be ultimately more effective in changing long-term behaviour.
Replication - 2 geographically distinct sites (Germany and Scotland)
Surveys - respondents selected by snowball methodology.
Respondents total (n=25) 13
Scotland, 12 Germany. Structured interview using cards with images.
Control - approx. half involved in AES, half not (involved in AES - Scotland n=8, Germany n=5)
Small sample size. No before after. Only considers social capital. The suggestion that entrepreneurial production target based on AES may be more effective in the long term is more a suggestion than being a finding of the study.
Crabb et al. 2000
This study was an economic evaluation of a grant scheme aimed at making conservation part of normal farming and land management practice.
The evaluation found that nearly two thirds of agreement holders definitely intend to re-apply at the end of their ten-year agreements and only 3% will definitely not re-apply; the remainder are undecided. Those definitely intending not to re-apply are older and have smaller agreements. The ten-year length of agreements is a major deterrent to renewal for the undecided.
Replication - 5 distinct case study areas.
Control and surveys - postal survey sent to 3000 non-participating landholders in the case study areas, a national survey sent to 3000 agreement holders and survey of 1500 unsuccessful applicants to the scheme. Interviews (telephone and face to face) n=148.
There is no independent verification of whether future intentions to re-enrol are actually implemented.
Duncan et al. 2014
This study (undertaken in south-eastern Australia) attempts to determine the validity of an assumption often used in government reports regarding revegetation and fencing off native vegetation. The assumption is that wholly privately funded sites match publicly subsidised sites on a hectare for hectare basis (a so-called ‘x2’ assumption).
The study found that contrary to the ‘x2’ reporting assumption, about 75% of the total area of the 412 sites studied was from subsidised sites, and that proportion was far higher for the period after 1997. However, rather than displacing unsubsidised activity, the studies modelling showed that landholders who had recently been subsidised for a project were more likely to have subsequently completed unsubsidised work. This indicates that, at least in terms of medium-term economic impact, the large increase in public subsidies did not diminish privately funded activity.
Independent site verification: Aerial photography was used to map the extent of revegetation, native vegetation fencing and restoration on 71 representative landholdings in rural south-eastern Australia.
Interviews: Landholders were interviewed and the age and funding model of each site was recorded.
Fisher and Pakula 2010
This study examined the adoption of machinery incentives in the central west region of New South Wales.
Project participant responses showed that while the majority accelerated their practice change as a result of the incentive, 73% would have adopted these practices within five years regardless of the incentive. In contrast, 13% of respondents noted that they would never have adopted these practices without the incentives.
Interviews: Structured telephone interviews with 24 key stakeholders, 319 recipients of incentives and 21 unsuccessful applicants were undertaken. Additionally focus groups, a desktop review and feedback from a workshop presenting project findings were also used.
Jackson-Smith et al. 2010
This paper examines the strengths and weaknesses of using formal USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service records of conservation program participation as an indicator of spatial and temporal patterns of Best Management Practice Implementation and maintenance.
While over 80% of structural and planting BMPs were still in the field, less than one-half of the management BMPs were still actively being used by project respondents.
Official contract files for each of the 90 landowners who participated in the program between 1992 and 2006 were reviewed.
Interviews: Fifty-five of the original 90 participants were interviewed.
Field verification: We shared a list of the best management practices encouraged in the program along with aerial photographs of their property and reviewed each practice to discover whether or not they were still using the practice.
While aerial photographs were helpful, particularly to verify structural works, management practices could not be independently verified using this method.
Kammin et al. 2009
This study was conducted in 1998 in Illinois. It involved an evaluation of the Private Land Wildlife Habitat Management Program as it functioned from 1986 to 1996.
This evaluation found that landholders valued site visits from state officers or other experts who had experience with the practice. It also found that landholders generally thought that their practice change had resulted in a more profound ecological change than in fact had occurred.
Survey: Self-administered mail questionnaire of 34 biologists involved in program from 1986 – 1996. Of the 4,548 participants, 75% were mailed a survey and 1,431 responded.
Site verification: A random sample of 101 properties managed by program participants were selected for on-site evaluations.
There was a lower than expected landholder response rate to the survey. It is unclear whether the site verifications used any data to compare site condition before the intervention to its condition afterwards.
Rode et al. 2013
This paper reviewed the theoretical insights and empirical findings on motivation crowding effects with economic instruments for biodiversity protection.
The most important finding from our review is that several empirical studies suggest the existence of motivation crowding effects with economic incentives for biodiversity protection, supporting the hypothesis that economic instruments can have important impacts on relevant motivations and conservation logics.
Rode et al. 2014
The paper seeks to advance our understanding of the extent to which the use of economic incentives can undermine (‘crowd out’) or reinforce (‘crowd in’) people’s intrinsic motivations to engage in biodiversity and ecosystem conservation.
This review found that while economic instruments for conservation are increasingly being used worldwide, it is crucial to assess existing intrinsic motivations and expected changes in people’s motivational structures prior to large-scale implementation.
Andrews et al. 2013
This paper investigated framing effects in the context of farmer decision making about conservation tillage practices.
The results suggest the possibility of modest financial payments ‘crowding out’ intrinsic motivations for contributions to public goods such as soil conservation. From a policy perspective, these findings also suggest the relative inefficacy of offers of modest conservation payments in promoting no-till farming, especially among non-adopters.
3 hypotheses were tested using a survey-based experiment administered to a national sample of row-crop farmers.
This study evaluated the WEST 2000 Plus program, undertaken in NSW.
The evaluation found that there is a declining need for investment in NRM works that have economic and environmental benefits. Further investments in NRM should be the responsibility of landholders only unless it can be demonstrated that there are substantial off-site benefits and impacts. It is evident from the responses to this evaluation that considerable investment has occurred on properties without WEST 2000 Plus funding and that many landholders will make further investments.
149 pastoralists responded to a telephone questionnaire. Discussions with other stakeholders were also undertaken and secondary data and information used.
Emtage and Herbohn 2012
This study investigated the factors that influence landholders to adopt recommended practices and use this to provide insights into how to encourage greater adoption of these practices
A strong relationship of trust between landholders and NRM bodies has been found to be crucial in order to achieve large scale involvement and behaviour change
Ferraro and Burnside 2001
This paper presents selected outcomes of an evaluation of the $17.5 million WEST 2000 Rural Partnership Program.
One-off payments are unlikely to be effective if repeated interventions are required over time and money is a barrier to implementation. This has been documented to be the case in western New South Wales for rabbit control and woody weed control
Primary data from: A telephone survey of randomly selected landholders (n = 173), detailed discussions with (landholder) grant recipients (n = 37), focus group meetings involving non-landholder stakeholders (n = 40). Secondary data i.e. funding applications and evaluation sheets and interviews with WEST 2000 Staff and Management Board
Garbach et al. 2012
This study evaluated adoption of silvopastoral conservation practices (reintroducing trees and shrubs into permanent pastures).
PES payments (Payment for Ecosystem Services) increased adoption of practices that provide primarily public goods. Practices providing primarily private benefits were adopted in the absence of PES. Farmer-to-farmer information sharing further supported use of conservation practices.
101 farmers were interviewed after the RISEMP pilot had closed – 66 who had received payments and/or technical assistance, and 35 who had not participated in the program.
Gustafson and Hill 1993
The objective of this study was to identify factors that influence North Dakota CRP participants’ decisions about future land use.
It was found that a majority (52 percent) of CRP land would be returned to crop production if the CRP program was not renewed in 1995. Twenty-one percent of CRP land would be rented out or leased and 18 percent used as pastureland.
Cross-sectional data from a mail survey were used to identify factors that are most likely to influence CRP land use decisions and to investigate relations between land use decisions and socioeconomic characteristics. A response rate of 39 percent or 351 participants was obtained from the sample size of 900.
The study examined the sustainability of a PES silvopastoral programme in Colombia from peasant farmers’ perspectives.
Participants needed ongoing extension support with information and motivation, and couldn’t maintain practices that required constant funding. When funds for fertiliser ran out, they stopped applying it.
Two surveys were used – one of pilot project participants (n=21, total 23) and new participants (n=54, total 60).
Hayes et al. 2014
This study examined how PES institutions fit with the tenets of adaptive decision-making for sustainable resource management.
PES programs are not inherently decentralized, flexible management tools, as PES contracts tend to restrict decision-making rights and offer minimal flexibility mechanisms to change resource-use practices over the duration of the contract period.
Surveys and replication: Interviews with program participants, program direction and extension agents of a PES carbon offsets program in Ecuador, and a silvopastoral program in Colombia.
Hoye and Bently 2008
This study looked at landholder adoption of native vegetation management in the Bega Valley Shire Area.
It was found that contract landholders rated administration requirements and flexibility in the lower bracket, indicating a need for future program design to explore landholders’ needs and expectations.
Telephone survey – 250 landholders with 5+ Ha, (56 held a native vegetation management contract). This was 8% of the 2988 landholders in region on 5+ Ha.
Johnson et al. 1997
This study aimed to examine the effects of factors that influence landowners’ post-contract use of CRP lands in the Texas High Plains.
The financial value of the commodity base will be a significant factor in the post-contract land use decision. The probability of acres returning to crop production increased with contract size. 69% of CRP acres would be returned to crop production in the absence of an extension of current contracts.
A mail survey was conducted among 740 CRP contract holders, who represented a stratified sample (by location) comprised of approximately 5% of total contract holders in the Texas High Plains
This article analyses how implementation practices produce conditions for agri-environmental management.
The paper discusses poor program designs (including the importance of flexibility and of recognising local conditions and farmer’ knowledge).It also discusses additionality.
Farmers from 31 farms located in Finland and enrolled in the general protection scheme were interviewed. The farms were selected to represent different production modes, size, age and environmental.
Lambert et al. 2006
This report examines the business, operator, and household characteristics of farms that have adopted certain conservation-compatible practices, with and without financial assistance from government conservation programs.
The report discusses farmer characteristics of involvement in voluntary programs and some features of successful programs.
Authors used crop-specific data from the Agricultural Resource Management Surveys to examine the characteristics of farms that adopt conservation management practices. A section of the 2001 ARMS survey of all farms was used to examine the adoption of different practices.
The data and survey are not included in the paper so it is difficult to assess their quality.
This article investigates the determinants that affect both adoption and abandonment of organic drystock farming over time in Ireland.
Risk-averse farmers are less likely to adopt, whereas farmers who express environmental concern are more likely to adopt. Farmers are most likely to adopt in their first year of farming and are most likely to exit after the first five-year contract expires, suggesting that farmers encounter problems with organic farming.
341 organic, 41 ex-organic and 164 conventional farmers were surveyed.
Surveys not included. Different surveys used for organic farmers and conventional farmers.
Lichtenberg and Smith-Ramírez, 2011
This paper examines the extensive margin effects of conservation cost sharing using farm-level data from Maryland.
It was found that cost sharing provides incentives for farmers to use conservation methods they would find unattractive without the financial help of cost sharing. With regard to slippage, farmers who received cost sharing allocated 50 percentage points less total farmland to vegetative cover than they would have in the absence of cost sharing.
Survey of 487 Maryland farm operators. Stratified random sampling was used to ensure a sufficient number of responses from commercial operations
Moon and Cocklin 2011
This study aimed to understand landholders’ motivations and barriers to conserve biodiversity, by interviewing 45 landholders involved in such programs in Queensland.
Results showed that changes to land management practices specified in the program should be developed with landholders to ensure that they are achievable and will provide the desired ecological outcomes. Observable improvements in land condition can be a powerful stimulus for behaviour change. Flexible programs carry the attendant risk of achieving low additionality.
Invitations were sent to program participants and 45 respondents (a response rate of 78%) was achieved. Interviews were conducted face to face or via telephone.
Given the small, selective sample of landholders interviewed in this research, it is likely that additional barriers to participation exist.
Morris et al. 2000
This study aimed to understand farmers’ attitudes towards and willingness to participate in the Arable Field Margins option of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.
Landholders in the CS Scheme found that the field margins option was difficult to understand, introduce and maintain, and as a result this was one of the least successful options in terms of uptake, implementation and continuation of practice. Landholders placed high value on ongoing support from the CS Scheme organisers.
Survey and replication: Telephone Questionnaire designed. Farmers were randomly selected from the Yellow Pages telephone directory to provide coverage from the predominantly arable parts of England as defined by MAFF agricultural statistics. 212 farmers interviewed from a range of farming types, farm sizes and soil types
Yellow pages as sampling tool - criticism that it misses lifestyle/organic farmers. This wasn’t the target audience so authors claim using the yellow pages was a valid tool.
Page and Bellotti 2015
In this research farmers’ values towards on-farm ecosystem services, motivations and perceived impediments to participation in conservation programs were identified in two local land services regions in Australia using surveys.
The study examines mainly participation, not ongoing NRM practice change, but it does discuss the impacts of legislative uncertainty regarding a carbon price.
91 surveys of landholders used in final sample. Sample strategy: A voluntary online survey. Email invitations containing the link to the survey were sent to approximately 800 farmers through Central West Farming Systems (CWFS) and EverGraze®.
Race and Curtis 2013
This paper examined how best to deliver payments for environmental services, and considered whether market-based instruments (MBI) deliver better outcomes than traditional approaches.
If the change toward ‘best practice’ NRM is relatively easy to sustain, of low cost, perceived to be successful, and adds value to the property’s management, then there is a strong likelihood that the commitment can be maintained over the long term. Support and grants should be tailored to suit different landholder’s needs. Ongoing support is important. Programs need flexibility.
In-depth semi-structured interviews with 31 landholders. Purposefully stratified sample included farmers and non-farmers, from 3 catchments in central northern Victoria, where there was a diversity of land uses.
Selection bias - those who participated were known to/associated with the NRM’s.
Sullivan et al. 2004
This report examined whether the impacts of CRP enrolment on rural employment and businesses, rural population and beginning farmers.
One factor that clearly influences the choice of post-CRP land use is the type of cover used when the land was in the program. CRP land planted to trees was far less likely to be converted to crop production upon the contract’s expiration than was CRP land planted in grasses and legumes.
Trends in the geographic distribution of CRP land and the characteristics of farm operators participating in the CRP were analyzed using CRP contract data and survey data on farm enterprises. A literature review detailed some of the known environmental and recreation impacts of the CRP.
Wilson and Hart 2001
This paper focuses on the importance of possible changes to attitudes of farmers participating in the UK’s Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) scheme and the Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme.
Key findings are the importance of flexibility, extension, monitoring and education.
200 farms from 2 different districts were surveyed in the UK in 1997 using structured questionnaire followed by in-depth interviews. The sampling strategy in the two districts was similar, with a random survey of participants and non-participants and in-depth interviews.
Bowyer and Heath 2009
This study aimed to understand the role that a financial grant and technical support played in the ‘Profitable perennials’ project undertaken in Western Australia had on participants’ adoption of perennial pastures.
The grant played a key role in involving farmers in the project and quickly leading them to trialling perennial pastures. It reduced the risk of implementing perennial pastures by reducing the capital outlay required for establishment. The technical support provided farmers access to a broad information network that allowed them to learn quickly about perennial pastures. The impact of the project on long-term adoption was difficult to assess because most participants had only just established pastures.
Semi structured interviews with 17 landholders were undertaken. Interview guide used and included in Appendix ‘Purposeful sampling’ technique used – landholders selected from 3 different areas in a geographic spread across the region.
Because 100 per cent of the project participants were not interviewed, it is possible that not all viewpoints or ideas have been captured through this study.
Karali et al. 2014
This paper identifies the factors that either constrain or facilitate farmer decisions to participate in environmental management practices in Switzerland.
Seventeen factors were found to influence farmer decisions to participate in environmental management practices, demonstrating that their decisions were not solely driven by economic incentives.
The study is based on a qualitative, thematic analysis of in-depth, semi-structured interviews of 24 respondents. Respondents were selected using a theoretical sampling method from a purposeful sample.
Posthumus and Morris 2010
This paper examined farmers’ opinions about CAP-reform, from successful interventions that aimed to reduce soil erosion and diffuse pollution, and also from failures.
This article is more on factors that influence adoption rather than long term practice change, but some useful findings, including the need for flexible rules to enable farmers to adapt practices on their farm, the possibilities of slippage and additionality, and actively involving landholders with trials.
Semi-structured interviews were held with 36 farmers. Replication: By selecting sub-catchments with a geographical spread, a variety of land management situations were accounted for. A stakeholder workshop was attended by 23 stakeholders
The sample of farmer interviewees was small, locally focussed and thus not representative for the entire farming population in the UK.
Reimer et al. 2012
A qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with farmers was conducted to determine which characteristics make four common BMPs more or less acceptable to agricultural producers.
The four practices include two management/operational practices (cover crops and conservation tillage) and two structural practices (grassed waterways and filter strips).The multiple benefits of implementing and maintaining grassed waterways were highly observable and worked to increase enthusiasm and commitment to the practice. Observable benefits included reduced soil erosion, increased presence of wildlife and enhanced aesthetic quality of the waterway
Interviews were conducted with forty-five producers in two watersheds in Indiana, USA.
The sample was primarily production-focused farms producing cash grains and soybeans. Smaller hobby farms and farms growing non-commodity crops may have very different views of practice characteristics.
Schenk et al. 2007
The objective of the study was to determine which conditions and factors influence acceptance positively or negatively.
It was found that those affected should be given the possibility to participate in an early phase of the planning process. Those affected should be informed about planned measures as early as possible. Information should not be seen as a troublesome duty, but as a cornerstone.
Replication: two different conservation measures were studied. Interviews: 22 people representing the following groups were interviewed in an iterative procedure: land owner (3), farmer (16), nature conservationist (1), local politician (2) and representative of the tourist industry (2). Sampling: The interviewees were theoretically sampled so that those selected included people have a representative sample.
In a qualitative approach the aim is not to obtain a representative sample, but rather to gain insights into the subject. Therefore only a small number of individuals were interviewed.
The study examined the Farm Bill Conservation Program using an informal interview process.
It was found that participants need low cost programs with flexibility, uncomplicated practices. Additionality was discussed.
Landholder interviews using a modified sondeo methodology.
Tennent and Lockie 2013
This article reviews the outcomes of three projects that targeted biodiversity conservation on agricultural land in Central Queensland.
This study suggests that while short-term and targeted environmental goals were achieved, arguably the most important outcomes of these projects were their capacity to build support networks, foster communication between natural resource management agency staff and landholders, and promote a greater appreciation for the relationships between biodiversity and productivity
Semi-structured, qualitative interviews with 13 land managers, 12 project officers and 3 community stakeholders was undertaken. Interviewees were selected on the basis of their involvement with one of the three projects and their willingness to participate in the study conducted on published academic and industry research.
Van Herzele et al. 2011
The paper sets out to examine the mechanisms by which mobilisation for agri-environmental management develops.
The study follows AEM along the various trajectories of implementation (design, distribution, application).
During March/June and November 2008, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 experts involved in AEM implementation, as well as 37 farmers who have practical experience with AEM.
No methods section
Burmeister et al. 2006
This report presents the opinions of landholders who took part in a trial program.
This study demonstrated the value of the annual reporting process and the importance of observing improvements in vegetation condition. The majority of landholders indicated that they would voluntarily continue to apply the management actions or at least continue to forego existing land uses such as grazing by stock, beyond their contract period
Surveys with a control were used, along with landholder annual reports and some site visits. But these were undertaken by consultants and not available in the report.
It was difficult to assess the study design given the lack of detail in the report. The study did not look at long term results and landholders only reported on changes during program while receiving payments, not after payments ceased.
Curtis et al. 2009
This study was an evaluation of Southern Rivers Bush Incentives Program.
Site visits by Project Officers were strongly welcomed by landholders and were considered to be one of the most beneficial aspects of the program. Time for basic extension was limited, a constraint of the program. Project Officers got around this by encouraging landholders to accompany them while they did a site assessment and even to help the in data collection on plots.
No methods section.
Authors appear to have been the staff who were project officers on the program using data collected during the program. Not an independent evaluation, could give rise to some conflict of interest.
Earl et al. 2005
The authors were contracted to provide an evaluation of the RLS Sustainable Agriculture Project in its initial phase. This report contains information gathered from the evaluation.
In our view the familiarity of project staff with landholders was beneficial to the process, with negotiations proceeding from a firm basis of trust. It is recommended that in the future a range of baseline measurements be recorded at the commencement of projects.
This report contains information and findings from an evaluation of the RLS Sustainable Agriculture Project in its initial phase from January 2005 to June 2005.
It was difficult to assess the methods given that the evaluation was not available.
Windle et al. 2007
This study examined details of a Queensland conservation auction, including its design and outcomes.
The study discussed problems with having a short term contract for long term goals, along with additionality.
No methods section in the paper.
The paper lists the survey as an appendix but this not attached to the main report. A link to the appendix online no longer active.
This study examines two Tasmanian programs that have engaged with over 1400 landowners.
Landowner appreciation that their land had both production and commercial conservation values grew. The flow of information to build capacity through improved awareness, knowledge transfers and skills development. Participation encouraged many landholders to redesign their properties into production and conservation zones that supported improved management for both productive and conservation outcomes.
No methods section in the paper.
The researchers reported on their experiences in engaging private landholders in 2 large market based conservation projects in Tasmania.
Roberts and Lubowski 2007
The study examined the persistence of cropland retirements induced by the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the largest U.S. conservation program.
It found the likelihood of a parcel returning to crop production is associated with the profitability of cropping activities and of alternative land uses, land cover contracted under CRP, land attributes, and location.
Researchers analysed micro data on land use for the 48 states during periods before and after the expiration of the first set of CRP contracts. The data reflect choices made by landowners who opted out of the CRP early, or who chose not to renew their contract.