RegenIowa, by improving farmer profitability, will move1 million acres of conventionally farmed corn and soybeans to regenerative agriculture by 2025. In addition to reducing input costs and increasing yields, this will sequester carbon and improve the nutrient density of these crops.
Farming with Regenerative Agriculture will go mainstream faster in Iowa than anywhere else in America.
Research into the Theory of Diffusion of Innovation has repeatedly shown that where everyone is doing the same thing and thinking the same way, change, once catalyzed, spreads like wildfire.
Ok, those are not Everett Rogers’ words. His words were early adopter, communication channels, critical mass, social capital and turbulence of operating systems. This famous professor of sociology and communications did his PhD thesis on Iowa corn farmers and the how and why of their accepting changes in farming practices.
Partially based on his Carroll Iowa childhood observations, especially his father’s resistance to hybrid corn, Rogers developed a way to measure, find and use the centers of influence, the innovators and early adopters who ultimately influence the mass market.
If you are familiar with Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chiasm, you understand how these ideas have influenced technology’s growth. Similarly, Cambridge Analytica applied Everett Rogers’ work to Facebook to polarize politics in America.
In Iowa, corn and soybean farmers have similar land, similar challenges and, therefore, similar operating approaches or systems. In contrast, in California, there are many crops and multiple factors that influence farming. For example, wine grapes have many varietals, many rootstocks, multiple approaches to canopy management, and farmers with bulk wine customers seek large crops, while those in Napa seek to maximize flavor, by limiting the crop yield.
California would be described as a high turbulence operating system, where Iowa farmers have low variation in approaches and a stable operating system. Thus, a new solution that works for their neighbor is likely to be rapidly adopted by Iowa farmers.