Barriers to adoption of win–win mitigation farm practices: evidence from New Zealand pastoral farmers

A Motu Technical Paper

Farmers are unsure    
if no-cost practices are    
practical for them.   

cattle cow cowshed 69170This paper uses survey data from 167 New Zealand sheep/beef and dairy farmers to explore the non-financial barriers that affect their decision-making when deciding whether or not to adopt or expand particular on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mitigation practices. We focus on six practices that have the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of animal operations, four of which have been defined by New Zealand scientists as win–win, or what we call “no-cost” practices.

We identify barriers following the typology of Jaffe (2017) and find that 12 different barriers preclude the decision to adopt/expand practices, even after the farmers have perceived the practice as “no-cost”. Of the identified barriers, “Unsureness about practicality” appears as the main cause for under-adoption across all farmers, while “Salience bias” and “Principal-agent or split-incentive problems” are the main barriers noted by sheep/beef farmers and dairy farmers, respectively.

We discuss these findings from the perspective of policy makers to provide insights on how these barriers could be confronted so as to enhance the adoption or expansion of win–win practices.

A model looking at dairy stocking rates and mitigation is freely available here.


NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre