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Cost and Risk: Major Obstacles to Wider Adoption of Beneficial Management Practices on California Farms

Specialty crop growers in California are increasingly adopting beneficial management practices (BMPs) for irrigation and nutrient management. Nevertheless, the significant up-front costs and perceived loss of yield for implementing BMPs are limiting factors to wider adoption. Over the course of eight months, American Farmland Trust polled and held focus groups with specialty crop growers, asking them what would make it more likely for them to try practices such as micro-drip, alternate furrow irrigation, and timed application and precise placement of nitrogen fertilizers. The results are contained in a American Farmland Trust report, Encouraging California Specialty Crop Growers to Adopt Environmentally Beneficial Management Practices for Efficient Irrigation and Nutrient Management.

Improved productivity, tax credits to offset costs, risk management tools and higher market prices for crops grown using environmentally friendly BMPs were among the incentives growers said would encourage them to adopt such practices. However, many California growers were skeptical about government cost-share programs that have been a traditional way of funding BMPs.

The American Farmland Trust report includes a number of recommendations for encouraging more specialty crop growers to adopt irrigation and nutrient management BMPs. “It is clear,” said American Farmland Trust's California Director Edward Thompson, Jr., who supervised the study, “that there needs to be a comprehensive strategy for expanding BMP adoption, ideally one that involves active participation by the California Department of Agriculture, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the major specialty crop trade associations.”

Read the full report.

Report cover page for Encouraging California Specialty Crop Growers to Adopt BMPs


American Farmland Trust