Why do farmers partially adopt conservation farming practices? A sociological study of stubble retention in NSW and Victoria

Vaughan Higgins, Caroline Love, Anthony Dunn, Deirdre Lemerle

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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Despite considerable investment in Australia and abroad to promote the benefits of conservation farming, rates of on-farm adoption in some regions have been slower than expected. Recent research suggests that this may be due to the preference by farmers for partial adoption of conservation farming practices. However, such research provides limited insights into why farmers may prefer partial adoption. This paper aims to address this issue by drawing upon qualitative data from a DAFF-funded project exploring stubble retention practices by grain growers in NSW and Victoria. Our study reveals that while growers recogni=se the significant benefits in retaining crop stubbles, there exist a range of constraints in moving towards full stubble retention. Growers seek to reconcile these benefits and constraints through partial adoption. They continue to selectively and reluctantly burn stubble as they recognise that moving towards full stubble retention would undermine their flexibility to manage biophysical and financial variability. This finding suggests that improving the uptake of stubble retention requires greater accommodation of growers’ existing practices, as well as recognition that selective burning may be complementary to growers retaining crop stubbles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication17th Proceedings of the Australian Agronomy Conference
Subtitle of host publicationBuilding productive, diverse and sustainable landscapes
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherAustralian Society for Agronomy
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event17th Australian Agronomy Conference - Wrest Point Convention Centre , Hobart, Australia
Duration: 20 Sep 201524 Sep 2015


Conference17th Australian Agronomy Conference
Abbreviated titleBuilding Productive, Diverse and Sustainable Landscapes
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