Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Robert M. Dimit


The conversion of grassland into cropland is a cultural activity. As such, it can be expected to be influenced by other aspects of the larger cultural system. Because grasslands that have been plowed into cropland become subject to increased erosion risk, knowledge about other factors in the cultural system that are associated with these conversions. may be useful to those interested in monitoring or influencing them. While some research has been directed toward the adopt Ion of Environmental Innovations, there is a general lack of research concerning the conditions associated with the need for conservation activities. The above information suggests that conversion of grassland to cropland, especially the conversion of native grassland in areas with marginal soils, creates the need for additional conservation measures. This research investigates changes in South Dakota agricultural land use patterns. It is an attempt to describe these changes and their associations with other socio-cultural and ecological factors. The problem that this research deals with can be stated in question form as follows: What selected characteristics of the socio-cultural systems in South Dakota counties are associated with grassland to cropland conversions. As mentioned previously, the conversion of grassland to cropland may create the need for additional conservation efforts in areas where these conversions take place. Since World War II there have been a multitude of studies concerned with the adoption of recommended farm practices and innovations. For the most part, however, these studies have focused on innovations of a commercial nature. In more recent times, there have been a few studies concerned with the adoption of environmental innovations. A major proportion of these studies deal with farm management decision making behavior. This study focuses on actual land conversion behavior in a broader ecological framework. The decision to convert grassland to cropland may or may not be a decision to implement a recommended practice. It also may or may not be related to the adoption of commercial and environmental innovations. While adoption research may provide certain insights into farmer behavior, it does not deal directly with the changes that are occurring in our agricultural landscape. For the purpose of this discussion, socio-cultural, systems are defined as: Systems providing for the sustenance, shelter, and defense, of human groups. This study is an attempt to uncover associations existing between selected characteristics of the socio-cultural systems in South Dakota counties and the conversion of agricultural land. It is hoped that if these associations can be shown to exist, they can provide insight and impetus for additional research aimed at furthering our understanding of the agricultural and cultural systems in which we live.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Soil conservation -- Research -- South Dakota
Soil erosion -- South Dakota
Cropland conversion program -- South Dakota
South Dakota -- Social conditions



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - United State