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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 109-134 in Animal Agriculture and the Environment: National Center for Manure and Animal Waste Management White Papers. J. M. Rice, D. F. Caldwell, F. J. Humenik, eds. 2006. St. Joseph, Michigan: ASABE.  .(doi:10.13031/2013.20249)
Authors:   Laura M.J. McCann, Peter Nowak, Jennifer Twyman Nunez

Reducing air and water pollution from livestock operations that are not regulated as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) will require voluntary adoption of new practices and technologies. However, adoption of the manure management strategies and innovations suggested by scientists has been disappointing. Increasing voluntary adoption of animal waste management strategies will require improved understanding of the economic and social barriers and constraints that currently limit adoption.

Before an innovation can be adopted, it must be invented and modified. Induced innovation theory says that innovations are developed that economize on relatively scarce factors of production. The fact that pollution is not costly to the farmer means that technologies that reduce pollution are less likely to be developed in the free market. Therefore, well-designed regulations and policies can facilitate the development of abatement technologies.

For innovations that have been developed, a number of barriers to adoption exist. A review of the adoption and diffusion literatures in economics and sociology shows that perceived characteristics of the innovation, characteristics related to the individual farm and farmer, as well as the social system are important. Uncertainty regarding potential costs and benefits of manure management systems will limit adoption and is accentuated by the complexity involved with animal and crop production systems. Increased information availability and trialing of innovations reduces uncertainty.

Profitability, or lack thereof, is an important barrier to adoption of improved manure management practices. If storage structures and application equipment are required, credit constraints may be an issue. In addition, the opportunity cost of time is an important factor with respect to both labor and management requirements. Transportation costs are a very important issue and will become more critical with phosphorous-based regulations. Compatibility with the goals of the farmer as well as the current farming system is an important barrier to adoption of improved manure management strategies. Institutional constraints may also exist. Systems solutions, involving interdisciplinary research, are required. Given the variability in farms, farmers, and location-related factors, different barriers will be most limiting and one-size-fits-all technologies and policies will not be appropriate.

Methodological approaches and institutional incentives for systems research need to be designed. Technologies and policies that address the current barriers to adoption of manure management strategies need to be developed in a systems context. For example, production systems that result in a valuable product, which may involve multiple farm units, are needed.

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