Strategies to Engage Middle Adopter Farmers on Cover Crops
The goal of this project was to change the behavior of those farmers resistant to implementing conservation practices (referred to as middle-to-late adopters and who comprise over 70% of farmers) through improved communication strategies. The team sought to answer the question: What messages resonate best with those farmers who are resistant to change?
The team developed and tested a series of outreach and communications strategies to engage middle-to-late adopter farmers that address the fundamental cultural components of their decision making as it pertains to conservation practices. The team undertook original research into the mental models of middle-to-late adopter farmers in the basin, evaluated existing successful strategies and sharpened those strategies based on their research and experiences.
From this research the team built a brand-new training program and curriculum called Grow More which they tested, evaluated and refined at several pilot locations in the basin. Grow More has grown into a popular, sought after program that trains agricultural outreach professionals in the best ways of reaching middle-to-late adopters to convince them to adopt conservation practices. This is a new approach as, historically, most conservation outreach has been strongly focused on innovators and early adopters, which comprise a small percentage of the farming population.