Agricultural conservation offers environmental benefits to farm families and others in the community as well as those living downstream. Studies of farmer conservation behavior have concluded that Best Management Practice adoption is not explained by innovation-diffusion, rational choice and farm structure models alone. As suggested by findings from the Sugar Creek Watershed, additional factors contribute to a land owner’s motivation for implementing conservation practices that go beyond economic or self-interested behavior; these motivations extend conservation behavior to social acts of stewardship where adoption takes place more often on medium-sized family farms. In this paper, Goldschmidt’s findings relating farm size and quality of life are tested in an exploratory analysis that evaluates conservation use as an indicator of quality of life. We perform this analysis by examining the relationships among the structural and social variables of farm size, enterprise type and intergenerational farm succession to ascertain their influence on land tenure. Conservation behavior and preferences for additional conservation practices, as elicited from participants through surveys, are added to the model to understand if and how they affect the discrimination of land tenure categories. Statistical analysis of these variables using analysis of variance (ANOVA) and discriminant analysis show the strength and, occasionally, directionality of these relationships, revealing a complex and interconnected reality that lends to a need for contextual explanation. Based on the conclusions of this paper, Buttel’s finding of a bimodal distribution of farm sizes, when viewed in terms of the benefits attributed to the medium-sized farms of Goldschmidt’s findings, reveal an area of concern when considering the future of conservation adoption.

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