Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

Christopher D. Clark

Committee Members

Dayton Lambert, Christopher Boyer


Extensive beef cattle farming in the ridge and valley region of East Tennessee suggests that cattle producers could play an important role in improving water quality through the adoption of livestock best management practices (BMPs). This study examines factors influencing willingness to adopt four BMPs—rotational grazing, pasture improvement, stream water crossing, and water tank systems—by beef cattle operations in a southeast Tennessee watershed. Factors examined include farm and farmer characteristics, farmer attitudes, and a hypothetical incentive program encouraging adoption of these practices. Data was collected through a mail survey of 5,150 farmland owners in McMinn, Bradley, and Monroe Counties. Respondents were asked if they would be willing to adopt each of the four BMPs at a given cost share, with the cost share amounts ranging from 50% to 125% of the expected out-of-pocket costs of installation/annual management, and how many acres/units of the practice they would implement. Younger, more educated producers with higher income levels were more willing to adopt one or more of the BMPs. Higher cost share amounts appeared to have greater influence on adoption of stream crossings than on rotational grazing, water tanks, and pasture improvement. Pasture improvement showed the greatest level of overall adoption interest, although many would-be adopters had already taken steps to improve their pastures. Analysis suggests producers have the most interest in a bundle of BMPs that include rotational grazing, water tanks, and pasture improvements. The analysis also suggests a preference away from stream crossings and BMP bundles that included stream crossings, unless all four BMPs were concomitantly implemented. Factors influencing willingness to adopt were analyzed along with factors influencing adoption intensity using regression analysis. Cost-share incentives did not play a substantial role in explaining adoption, but the influence of other explanatory factors was similar to other results found in the BMP adoption literature.

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