The significance of aesthetics for the adoption of no-tillage farming

No-tillage is an effective protective measure against erosion which offers ecological and economic advantages. Although it has spread continually in Switzerland since the mid-1980s and some cantons actively promote its adoption, the share of total agricultural land under no-tillage remains low (4 %). This study on reasons for adoption or rejection of no-tillage shows that farmers take their decisions against the background of their entire life-world. Along with economic, agronomic, and ecological aspects, social and aesthetic issues play a role as well. No-tillage has to fit in with the farmers’ everyday work practice; at the same time, no-tillage also has to be in line with their value system, their aesthetic perceptions, and their professional and personal identities. For this reason, when farmers adopt no-tillage, they not only have to adapt their farm to the new practice (e. g. by buying new machines or hiring contractors), but also their ways of interpreting crop conditions (e. g. slower germination) and their perceptions as to what makes a good farmer (e. g. keeping fields nice and tidy, the plough as a symbol of farming). Programmes to promote no-tillage thus face the challenge of facilitating learning processes at all these levels of farmers’ life-worlds.

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