As part of both a USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities and Conservation Innovation Grant, James Hale and Michael Carolan received over $700k from the Colorado Department of Agriculture to research the social dimensions of a soil health program called STAR (Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources) over the next four years. Adam Snitker is and will be playing a key role in this effort. The project examines factors that support and/or inhibit agricultural transitions. Specifically, drawing on the community capitals framework, the research team will use a mixed-methods case study approach to understand how the STAR program may or may not mobilize resources needed to transition farm and ranch operations. For example, which parts of the program increase the adoption of social health practices and for whom? Are there differences between those that participate in peer-to-peer learning, pay-for-performance, or merit-based motivations (i.e. number of stars)? Put another way, looking beyond financial incentives, what other variables support farm transitions that “stick” over the long term? A central goal of this project is to inform policy in a way that considers the sociological aspects of so-called individual decision-making in hopes of supporting more sustainable and just agricultural transitions. Read more here.

Michael Carolan is a Professor of Sociology; Co-Director of CSU’s Food Systems Institute for Research, Engagement and Learning; and a CSU Engagement and Extension Food Systems Specialist. James Hale is a Research Scientist II, and Adam Snitker is a Ph.D. student.