Conservation Tillage and Cropping Innovation: Constructing the New Culture of Agriculture

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Conservation Tillage and Cropping Innovation: Constructing the New Culture of Agriculture

by C. Milton Coughnenour and Shankariah Chamala, Iowa State University, 2000, 360 pages, Clothbound $64.95.

As stated in the preface by the authors, "this [book] is a study of the sociology of the conservation tillage and cropping revolution in the United States and Australia", techniques that have gradually replaced the plow culture. Of particular interest is their case study approach that involved in-depth interviews of six farmers in the Darling Downs area of Queensland and eight producers in Kentucky.

The book contains 11 chapters, including Chapter 1, Introduction and Chapter 2, Conceptualizing System Innovation, which provide good background for readers about their goals and methodology for the study and terminology about the process of change and how it occurs.

Chapters 3 and 4 describe the plow culture in the U.S. and Australia and farming practices in the 1950's that led to a desire for change by many producers. Chapter 5, The Social Construction of Innovative Networks, examines the networks of innovators, including producers, research and extension workers, machinery and chemical company representatives, and others who formed local and global networks to share information, philosophies, and field experiences that enabled the transition to occur. Chapters 6 and 7 provide case histories of innovation over time of conservation tillage and cropping systems in Kentucky and Queensland. Chapter 8 is an overview of the spread of conservation tillage during the 1960's through the 1990's, including agroecological, economic and sociological aspects of this evolution and techniques used to spread the message about no-till farming.

Chapter 9 examines the spread of conservation tillage throughout the U.S. …