When my neighbors matter : Spillover effects in the adoption of large-scale pesticide-free wheat production

Wang, Yanbing; Möhring, Niklas; Finger, Robert


We investigate the spillover effects in farmers’ adoption decisions of a novel pesticide-free wheat production system. To this end, we exploit the variability and asymmetry in the social ties among neighboring farmers. We find evidence of spillover effects in farmers’ adoption decisions as well as in farm and farmer characteristics. Our results further highlight the importance of accounting for potentially heterogeneous social ties in farmer networks beyond pure measures of spatial proximity: spillover effects are only robust once we account for the strength of social ties through farmers’ stated tendency to consult peers on agricultural decisions. Our findings highlight the relevance of peer influence in the diffusion of sustainable agriculture practices even in contexts of well-functioned institutions and high interest in environmental protection such as European agriculture. We discuss implications for the design of policies and programs for sustainable agriculture, which are currently in the center of attention in agricultural policymaking.