Technical change, through the introduction of land-enhancing conservation technologies, is essential to economic growth in the Sahel. Tobit analysis was used to identify factors that motivate level and intensity of adoption of specific soil and water management technologies. The results show that higher percentage of degraded farmland, extension education, lower risk aversion, and the availability of short-term profits are important for increasing the adoption and intensity of use of improved 'tassa' and half-crescent shaped earthen mounds. Age and attitudes to differential gains between farm and non-farm income showed no influence on adoption. Three main policy implications emerge from these findings. First, technologies should be targeted to locations that have large percentages of degraded farmlands. The probability of adoption and intensity of use are likely to be high at such locations. Second, there is the need to provide extension education that demonstrates risk reduction capacities of conservation techniques. This will make available information capable of stimulating adoption of land-enhancing technologies. Finally, policy-makers should not seek to target innovations to younger farmers because age has no relationship to adoption of the improved 'tassa' and half-crescent shaped earthen mounds. Lessons from the case study have broad relevance to cropped areas in the Sahel. © 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.