To better understand how farmers viewed 4R Nutrient Stewardship and related practices, The Ohio State University conducted a panel survey of farmers living in the Maumee Watershed, the largest of Lake Erie’s watersheds, and Sandusky River watershed. They were interested in identifying how adoption of a suite of conservation practices changes over time on the majority of acreage in the two watersheds.
Of the 689 farmers who participated in wave 1 of the survey in 2016, 381 returned usable surveys in 2018, accounting for an adjusted response rate of 59.7%. Overall, we find that while some practices show consistently high adoption rates over time (e.g., soil testing, avoiding winter application), others show relatively low and inconsistent adoption rates (e.g., cover crops and subsurface placement). However, we see great potential in increasing the adoption of practices like cover crops and subsurface placement, as almost twice as many farmers are willing to use the practices (~60-70%), as report actually using the practices (~30-35%). These percentages reflect both the proportion of farmers in our sample who reported using or considering use of the practice, as well as the proportion of acreage covered by these practices due to the sample being stratified by farm size.