Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Plant Science


Rachel E. Schattman

Second Committee Member

M. Susan Erich

Third Committee Member

Jonathan Malacarne

Additional Committee Members

Gabrielle Roesch-McNally


As climate change continues to affect agroecosystems, farm resilience will become increasingly important. To feed a growing global population, the future of agriculture must be secure and ultimately, sustainable. Use of soil health practices can increase farm resilience through improved provision of ecosystem services. Not only does this benefit the farm agroecosystem, it can also improve also agronomic outcomes while also improving landscape scale ecological conditions. It can also can have positive impacts on profitability. The benefits to use of soil health practices are well documented, yet rates of adoption in the United States remain relatively low. Therefore, research must focus on understanding barriers to adoption and how to best incentivize practice use. The goal of this thesis is to provide insight into both of these research needs. The first chapter discusses pertinent background information, including relevant soil health practices and extant incentive programs. The second chapter focuses on identification of barriers to adoption of soil health practices. Using survey data (n=470) augmented with interview data (n=23) this chapter classifies the barriers perceived in an effort to create a meaningful typology of common barriers to adoption and describes the differences in barriers perceived by current and prospective soil health practice users. The second chapter uses this same data, with a focus on interviews to addresses novel incentives to adoption of soil health management practices. Specifically, this chapter uses interview data to explore farmer perceptions of novel payment for ecosystem service programs that are rapidly proliferating in the United States. These programs pay farmers for increases in soil carbon and water quality and may provide the financial boost that farmers need to accelerate use of soil health practices.