Assessing the knowledge of county extension agents on geotextile applications for agricultural practices in Oregon and Idaho Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/kw52jf31m

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  • The purpose of the study was to assess county extension agents' knowledge of geotextiles; to determine their current level of information and their location on an adoption-diffusion curve; and to determine the agents' attitudes toward the potential use of geotextiles in agriculture, specifically in soil erosion control. A questionnaire was designed to investigate the extension agents' basic knowledge of geotextiles and current uses; and through a self-rating selection, to determine their position on an adoption-diffusion curve. The 30- item questionnaire also incorporated measures determining the agents' attitude toward, and perception of potential for, geotextile use in agricultural practices. The questionnaire was mailed to all 122 county extension agricultural, horticultural, and farm management agents in Oregon and Idaho. A total of 92 usable replies (75.4%) were received and included in the study. Descriptive statistics were employed in the analysis of the individual questions and the chi-square test was used in the analysis of nominal data for all hypotheses. The level of significance was set at .05. The development of a profile of the agents' knowledge of basic geotextile functions showed the agents were most familiar with landscape fabric; they were first introduced to the fabrics through commercial literature and extension agents/specialists; and they were first made aware 2-5 years ago. The most important project which used a geotextile in the agent's county(ies) was most frequently designed and installed by a farmer or rancher, in use less than five years, and increased productivity immediately or within one growing season. A significant relationship was found to exist between the agents' self-rating of their level of knowledge and their area of expertise. The horticultural agents' self-rating of their level of knowledge of agro-textiles was most often cited as moderate. The crops and combination agents claimed to have very little knowledge and the livestock agents said very little or none. Significant relationships could not be established between the agents' self-rating of their level of knowledge and the most prevalent farm or ranch land use in their county; their length of employment; and their attitude toward, or perception of, geotextile use in agricultural practices. No significant relationship could be confirmed between the curve created by the agents' knowledge and Rogers' (1958, p. 351) adoption-diffusion curve. Because agro-textiles are a relatively new product, complete adoption has not yet taken place. Therefore, the agents' curve is not expected to be normal. Results showed the major benefits in using agro-textiles were increased productivity and dollars saved. Other benefits included: the savings of water and time; and the control of frost and increased soil warmth, which led to earlier harvests, longer seasons, and less loss of crops. The real and/or perceived barriers against the use of agro-textiles most cited were too expensive and not cost effective.
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