AP – Non-adoption Of Conservation Tillage Because Of Knowledge Gaps? A Case Study From North-east Bulgaria
If applied properly conservation tillage is a technology which can increase farms economic situation through reducing energy input and saving time for operations and on the other hand is beneficial for the environment and plant growing through reducing the risk of erosion and preserving soil moisture. Adoption of a conservation tillage systems not only means having the appropriate machinery (e.g. disc harrows or harrows), but also the respective abilities and knowledge of how to use the machinery to serve the farmer’s objectives. Several studies have investigated the impact of human capital on technology adoption in agriculture, for example, by considering variables such as schooling, age, and contact to extension agents. However, in the decision making process a farmer’s perception of characteristics of a new technology such as its relative advantage, compatibility and complexity forms the persuasion of an individual to adopt or to reject an innovation. For the most, studies on technology adoption have been carried out for developing countries and the American continent. However, up to now there has been hardly any research on the adoption of agricultural technology in transition countries. This is surprising as one could have expected changes in farmers’ adoption behaviour since the start of transition. In this paper we investigate farmers’ perceptions and attitudes towards the adoption and use of conservation tillage systems in North-East Bulgaria. In particular, we study whether information deficits and knowledge gaps about the use of conservation tillage systems determine the farmers’ perceptions and attitudes. We base our analysis on a case study involving interviews with 35 farm managers in the region. Results suggest that knowledge gaps and information deficits determine the adequate use of conservation tillage practices. Although farms have some machinery which can be used for conservation tillage practices (e.g. harrows), results suggest that farms do so very selectively. Farms perceive the technology as being appropriate only for a limited range of crops (e.g. cereals). For all other crops (including maize) it is not considered as a proper tillage system. Farmers’ attitudes towards conservation tillage appears to contradict reasons accredited to conservation tillage in literature. Approved advantages of conservation tillage, for example the preservation of soil moisture are not connected by farmers with this system and perceived to be better in the conventional tillage system.
Keywords: conservation tillage, technology adoption, Bulgaria.