A new method of measuring the adoption of soil conservation practices : theory and applications

J. Castaño, M.T.G. Meulenberg, A. van Tilburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a new methodology for measuring the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices that attempts to integrate positive features of earlier approaches. It measures the degree of sustainability observed by the farmer and, at the same time, is straightforward and efficient in field-by-field appraisals. The methodology proposed starts with the identification of all available soil conservation practices in the area. The practices are then grouped into activity categories and are ranked within each category on the basis of their expected soil conservation effect on the plot system. The resulting ranking system is applied to each plot included in the analysis. Non-linear principal component analysis is carried out on the plot rankings to extract a limited number of major metric components. The method is applied to the Cabuyal watershed in Colombia. The analysis shows that soil management strategies of Cabuyal farmers consist of different combinations of basic soil conservation practices: soil disturbance control, soil protection practices and run-off control. A cluster analysis of the plot scores on these three combinations revealed that the different strategies of soil management are related to the institutional, economic, physical and personal- social factors affecting farms and farmers. The results from the cluster analysis show the usefulness of the proposed methodology for policy purposes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-115
JournalNetherlands Journal of Agricultural Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • soil conservation
  • sustainability
  • soil management
  • innovations
  • adaptation
  • measurement
  • cluster analysis
  • colombia


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