Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication Department


Date of this Version

April 2005


Published in Small-Scale Forest Economics, Management and Policy, 4:2 (2005), pp. 185-204. Small-Scale Forest Economics, Management and Policy ( was published under the auspices of IUFRO (International Union of Forest Research Organizations) Working Unit 3.08.00 Small-scale Forestry and sponsored by Joensuu University (Finland) and The University of Queensland (Australia). It is succeeded by the journal Small-scale Forestry, published by Springer Verlag.
Used by permission.


Pesticide and nutrient runoff from agricultural fields is a socio-environmental problem in the Midwestern United States. Riparian forest buffers (RFBs) are a proven conservation practice that effectively manage this problem, though adoption rates are low. A mail survey was conducted to determine differences between adopter and nonadopter characteristics and attitudes with regard to the use of RFBs. Data were collected from 48 RFB adopters and 261 RFB nonadopters in two Nebraska watersheds. Inferential and multivaririate statistics were used to identify differences between adapter status and producer status groups. About half (50.8%) the respondents were nonproducers. Nonproducers are agricultural landowners not farming that make decisions about whether to install conservation practices on their land. Among the adopter respondents, non-farming agricultural landowners (nonproducers, n=25) were as likely to adopt RFHs as producers (n=23). Adopters were more informed about RFBs and willing to accept government payments. Receiving technical and financial assistance was a major key to adoption. The research has identified important opportunities for more effective and targeted RFB extension education programming.