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The adoption of pesticide-free wheat production and farmers' perceptions of its environmental and health effects
Ecological Economics  (IF6.536),  Pub Date : 2022-05-09, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2022.107463
Robert Finger, Niklas Möhring

The reduction of pesticide use is a prime issue on policy agendas worldwide. However, existing policies often fail to promote widespread adoption of low-pesticide or no-pesticide production practices. Therefore, in order to overcome this obstacle, it is important to understand why farmers hesitate to use more sustainable pest management. To this end, we investigate the relationship between farmers' perception of the adverse environmental and human health effects generated by pesticides and their decision to participate in a novel, pesticide-free wheat production standard in Switzerland. Survey data from 1073 wheat producers reveals that 14% are early adopters of the pesticide-free wheat production program and a further 44% intend to switch to this production scheme in following growing seasons. We find that farmers who perceive risks of pesticides for the environment and human health to be higher are also more likely to adopt pesticide-free production. Our results suggest that a large-scale adoption of pesticide-free production requires a broad set of (policy) instruments beyond purely financial incentives. Our findings thus have important implications for the design of sustainable production schemes.