Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Peter F. Korsching


The purpose of this dissertation is to achieve a higher level of understanding of the adoption and diffusion process of conservation technology on Iowa farms. The tools used in this discovery process are a qualitative analysis of farmers' perceptions of conservation technologies, an analysis of the adoption and diffusion model, and the formulation of a local dependency theory to explain the patterns of adoption on Iowa farms. Specifically, this investigation comes to the conclusion that the Iowa farmer is trapped in a dependency situation that is controlled by the government, trans-national corporations, and local capital, a triad known as the triple alliance. The resulting dependency hampers the adoption of technologies that do not benefit the triple alliance;The argument is based on an USDA funded study of mid-western farmers known as the Management Systems Evaluations Area project, or MSEA. The socio-economic, portion of the study employed the focus group and case study methods of investigating farmers' reaction to the conservation technologies of ridge tillage and permanent vegetative filter strips. The studies revealed a dependency situation on the farm that was preventing the adoption of the two technologies. As a result, the dependency theory of international development was reformulated to the local level of abstraction to explain the adoption process in relation to conservation technology adoption. The use of dependency theory to explain the adoption of conservation technology overcomes the traditional shortcomings of the widely accepted adoption model that originates from the modernization theory of development and the concepts of rational choice and the free market. The reformulation provides an understanding of the conservation technology adoption process that better fits the current sociopolitical situation of the Iowa farmers.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Eric Bruce Imerman



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

146 pages