The Influence of Demonstration Sites and Field Days on Adoption of Conservation Practices

Document Type


Journal/Book Title

Journal of Soil and Water Conservation

Publication Date



Soil and Water Conservation Society





First Page


Last Page



For more than 100 years, demonstrations have been used by university extension programs and other conservation professionals to increase knowledge, awareness, and adoption of agricultural practices and technologies. However, there has been no systematic, empirical examination of the effect demonstrations have on adoption of agricultural innovations nor conservation practices. We examined the relationship between producer attendance at demonstration sites and field days of four conservation practices and the subsequent adoption of these practices using a mail survey (n = 513) and in-person interviews (n = 24) with agricultural producers in three regions of Indiana. Results show that there is a significant, moderate relationship between attendance and adoption of cover crops, nutrient management, and filter strips and a significant, weak relationship for two-stage ditches. Interviews with agricultural producers suggest that cover crop demonstration sites and field days allow for learning about practices from persons outside their regular social and professional network and provide tailored advice that allow producers to understand what to consider when making a decision to adopt a conservation practice. Results indicate that demonstration sites and field days do influence adoption of conservation practices; however, data do not control for the probability that those who attend are more likely to adopt regardless of attendance.

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