By John A. Long, Rick L. Lawrence, Perry R. Miller, Lucy A. Marshall, and Mark C. Greenwood
Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 197, 01 December 2014, Pages 77–87, Published Online 07 August 2014
- Study was a spatio-temporal analysis of management practices in northeast Montana.
- We examined cereal–pulse sequences and strip-cropping conversions during 2001–2012.
- Both practices were spatially clustered in the region.
- Neither practice was strongly associated with spread due to diffusion of innovation.
- Both practices were strongly associated with the availability of water.
"Producers make the decision to adopt a particular agricultural practice within a range of social, economic, environmental, and agronomic constraints. The semiarid regions of the US northern Great Plains are dominated by dryland farming practices and the traditional practice has been to rotate small-grain cereals with summer fallow; however, producers are moving away from this practice. The area of fallow in northeastern Montana decreased by one-third and the area of pulse crops increased nearly six-fold during 2001–2012. We previously identified two key practices that are indicative of regionally changing agricultural practices: (1) the broad-scale adoption of cereal–pulse sequences, and (2) the conversion from continuous strip-cropping to block managed cereal-based sequences. Here, we examined the adoption of these two practices from a spatio-temporal perspective to determine if the observed patterns were consistent with those expected from a priori processes: random occurrence, spread and adoption of the practices due to social interaction as described in innovation diffusion theory, or adoption based on environmental factors. Our results suggest that the adoption and spread of both practices were likely constrained by the suitability of the physical environment. Available water, in particular, exerts a fundamental control on the decision whether or not to adopt either practice. We also found evidence for the expansion of these practices due, in part, to social factors, particularly during the early period of adoption. We conclude that producers made the decision whether or not to adopt these practices primarily as a function of environmental suitability and, to a lesser extent, within the context of social interactions."