This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Sod-Based Rotation Systems: Research for Whom?




Hargrove, Jennie

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology


Over the last two decades, a Southeastern multi-institutional, multidisciplinary research team developed a low-input sod-based rotational system with integrated cattle (SBRC) to improve sustainability for small- to medium-size producers. This study draws on the literatures of adoption and diffusion of innovations and both agricultural science and science and technology studies including technology transfer, as well as the production of actionable science. Findings suggest that while nearly all researchers viewed the SBR as beneficial to the biophysical environment, over 40% believed that modifications were needed to both the SBRC and the research design. In contrast, producers had significant concerns about the system that demonstrate a lack of trust in the researchers who developed and the extension agents who endorsed the SBRC due to a lack of complete information, failure to incorporate regional characteristics, and perceptions of overall system complexity. These findings illustrate the consequences of research initiated without stakeholder input into project objectives, design, and oversight, as well as the challenges of long-term, multi-state, multidisciplinary research that continues to take place within the existing structure of disciplinary science. These findings underscore the need for inclusion of social scientists throughout projects such as SBRC (particularly at the “front-end”) to facilitate a democratic process of technology development that is compatible with existing social and economic structures.