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Permalink Researchers Explore Which Farmers Would Adopt Multifunctional Perennial Cropping Systems

A group of researchers at the University of Illinois wanted to know which farmers are most likely to adopt multifunctional perennial cropping systems (MPCs)—trees, shrubs, or grasses that simultaneously benefit the environment and generate high-value products that can be harvested for a profit. The team surveyed farmers in the Upper Sangamon River Watershed in Illinois about whether they would use MPCs on marginal land. The team classified survey respondents in six categories, with the "educated networkers" and "young innovators" most likely to adopt MPCs. Thus, the outreach efforts that target these groups are likely to deliver the greatest results. On the other end of the spectrum, survey respondents classified as "money motivated" and "hands-off" were least likely to adopt the new cropping systems. However, the researchers suggested that even these low-likelihood adopters might be swayed by outreach tailored to their interests. The researchers also identified barriers that could keep farmers from adopting MPCs. The farmers indicated that it was important to have an existing market in place for MPC products, and that long-term land tenancy was a prerequisite for investing in crops that are slow to generate a return on investment, such as nuts.

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