The adoption of soil conservation practices is widely recognized as essential in improving soil fertility and promoting climate-smart agriculture in general. Yet, smallholders’ adoption of soil conservation practices in Sub-Saharan Africa has not been adequately documented, especially in relation to the interdependence and temporal dynamics of adoption decisions. In this paper, we analyze the interdependence and temporal dynamics of smallholders’ adoption of soil conservation practices, such as animal manure, crop residue retention, intercropping, and crop rotation in northern Nigeria. We use data from two rounds of a farm-household panel survey among maize-based farming households and estimate econometric models, including pooled multivariate probit and random effects ordered probit. We found that there is a significant positive correlation between the soil conservation practices, suggesting that adoption decisions for these practices are interrelated and the practices are considered complements by the farmers. We found evidence of inter-temporal variability in the adoption of soil conservation practices, which suggests that some farmers do switch in and out of these practices and may likely explain the often-reported variability in maize yields. Also, we found that the farmers’ decisions to adopt soil conservation practices and the intensity of adoption are influenced by several factors, including farmer-, household-, farm-, institutional-, and biophysical-level factors. Yet, the factors that significantly influence the likelihood of adoption differ slightly from those that influence the intensity of adoption. Policy interventions to enhance the adoption intensity of conservation practices should strongly leverage important factors, such as contract farming, crop–livestock integration, and off-farm income diversification.
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