Did policy lose sight of the wood for the trees? An UTAUT-based partial least squares estimation of farmers acceptance of innovative sustainable land use systems

Verena Otter*, Maximilian Deutsch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The ongoing EU-wide public debate on sustainability concerns is increasingly reflected in policy programs at both supranational (e.g. the EU green deal), and national levels (e.g. the German climate protection program of 2030). As part of these programs, measures for improving the ecological sustainability of food production play a central role and require the wider implementation of innovative land use systems. Alley cropping agroforestry systems are one example that could, according to recent scientific literature, make an important contribution to resolving the trade-off between economic and ecological sustainability in sparsely forested EU countries such as Germany. However, even today these systems show limited dissemination in agricultural practice, exposing a lack of knowledge about farmers’ profit and subsidy expectations and their main behavioral acceptance drivers in the current political situation. This study aims to close this gap in two ways. Firstly, it assesses farmers’ expectations of economic benefits from planting alley cropping agroforestry systems, and offsets them against national taxpayers’ willingness to pay an annual tax for these systems. Secondly, it quantifies the influence of psycho-social factors that drive farmers to accept alley cropping agroforestry systems as part of their cultivation program. It does this through the empirical application of a case-specific model based on the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology. Data on farmers’ economic expectations and model constructs were generated during a quantitative survey of 209 farmers in Germany and analyzed using descriptive statistics and partial least squares structural equation modeling technique. The descriptive results demonstrate a general rejection of alley cropping agroforestry systems and a low intention to implement them. Farmers prefer subsidy programs to the sale of wooden components as sources of economic benefit, expecting a yearly support of €512 (∼ 606US$) per hectare. Results from the partial least squares analysis show the positive influence of performance expectancy, attitude, and facilitating conditions on the behavioral intention to use an alley cropping agroforestry system, with the latter exerting a positive influence on the final use behavior. Entrepreneurial planning and intuition appear to influence some of the acceptance factors. The results suggest a wide range of implications for policy makers, advocacy groups, and farmers, proposing a focus on creating favorable conditions and positive attitudes among farmers in order to increase agroforestry dissemination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106467
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Alley cropping
  • Germany
  • Innovation acceptance
  • Partial least squares estimation
  • Sustainable land use
  • Unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT)


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