Perceptions of Soil Testing among Horticultural Farmers in the United States

Corey M Hanlon, Marilyn E Swisher, Rosalie L Koenig, Mark W Clark


Concerns about water quality and other environmental impacts have increased interest in sustainable agriculture in recent years. Techniques like soil testing are simple, inexpensive ways to protect water quality, but many farmers choose not to use soil testing. Research shows that a potential adopter’s perception of five attributes affect the likelihood of adopting a practice or product. Relative advantage refers to whether the new practice performs better than an existing practice. Compatibility refers to how well a practice fits into a management system. Complexity is how difficult the practice is to use. Trialability refers to how easy it is to test the practice and observability refers to the potential adopter’s exposure to the practice. This study examined whether there are differences in how large and small farmers perceive soil testing. The sample consisted of 277 horticultural farmers throughout the United States. Respondents reported their perceptions of the five attributes as well as age, years of experience, gender, and acres in production. Perceptions of complexity and observability were significantly different for small and large farmers. Gender and years of experience also affected perceptions of these attributes. To increase use of soil testing, extension programs should focus their efforts on changing small farmers’ perceptions of soil testing complexity and observability.


innovation diffusion, adoption, farm size

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283