Alley cropping systems as Ecological Focus Areas: A PLS-analysis of German farmers’ acceptance behaviour

Verena Otter*, Lara Beer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

“Greening”, which was introduced during the last reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, targets the enhancement of ecological sustainability in European agriculture. Due to its association with such sustainability gains, growing agricultural wood, either as short rotation coppices or as agroforestry systems using for example the alley cropping system method, is one option to fulfil the Greening requirement of providing Ecological Focus Areas. However, agricultural wood in general or as an Ecological Focus Area is still of only minor relevance in most European countries. Particularly in Germany, where farmers are nowadays increasingly confronted with a conflict between the goals of realising their own profits and meeting societies’ sustainability expectations, alley cropping systems are grown on a few field trials only. Reasons can likely be found in national specificities of political support for alley cropping systems as Ecological Focus Areas and in psycho-economic determinants of farmers’ acceptance; an under-researched topic so far. To close this research gap, this study aims at identifying determinants of farmers’ acceptance of alley cropping systems as Ecological Focus Areas. The conceptual framework developed is based on the Technology Acceptance Model 2. Survey data from 238 German farmers were collected and analysed by means of Partial-Least-Squares estimation. The results show that farmers’ experience with alley cropping systems as Ecological Focus Areas is rather low but they generally consider agricultural wood as useful in fulfilling Greening requirements. The intention to grow is explained by 44% of the model and actual growing behaviour by 48%. The perceived cost-usefulness-ratio, stakeholder influences and expected image effects are identified as the main drivers of farmers’ acceptance of alley cropping systems as Ecological Focus Areas. Based on these results, important implications are derived, to address to politicians, agricultural consultants, chambers of agriculture or farmers’ associations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123702
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume280
Issue numberPart 2
Early online date29 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Alley cropping systems
  • Ecological Focus Areas
  • Partial-least-squares-method
  • Technology acceptance model 2

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