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Best-worst scaling, also called maximum-difference scaling, is used to rank the most important to least important benefits and characteristics of a conservation practice during the adoption decision-making processes of agricultural producers and non-farming/absentee landowners. Both groups are found to rank and value the attributes and reasons for adoption of conservation practices differently at the 95% significance level. Producers rank “practice benefits the farm ecosystem” as the most important consideration when making conservation practice decisions on their operation 29.7% of the time. This is followed closely by the attribute, “practice improves profit,” which is chosen as the best reason by 29.4% of producers. Non-farming/absentee landowners rank, “practice benefits the farm ecosystem” as the most important factor 33.4% of the time, but they choose, “practice improves profit” only 23.4%. This difference, combined with variations in the rankings of the reasons for adopting conservation practices between the two groups reinforces the importance of land tenure in decision making. This indicates the need for both new extension educational efforts and economic incentives to reduce negative externalities from sediment loading and eutrophication that could be ameliorated from increased adoption of soil and water conservation.


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