What Women Landowners Want to Know about Conservation

Jingyi Tong, Jamie Benning, Catherine DeLong, Madeline Schultz, Wendong Zhang
January 2023  [23-WP 645]

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Suggested citation:

Tong, J., J. Benning, C. DeLong, M. Schultz, and W. Zhang. 2023. "What Women Landowners Want to Know about Conservation." Working paper 23-WP 645. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


Women own or co-own almost half of the land in the US Midwest and women landowners are playing a more and more important role in production and financial decision-making. However, women landowners are less involved in conservation programs and networks, and thus, the main participants for governmental and private conservation programs are still men. Using a survey of 358 women landowners in 2021, this article studies Iowa women landowners’ interest in conservation topics across various groups based on farming, financial, and demographic characteristics to better understand their informational needs related to conservation and to empower them with knowledge and confidence in farm management practices. We find that women landowners are most interested in agricultural carbon credits programs, followed by soil erosion control, soil fertilizer management, and cover crops. We provide statistical evidence that women operating landowners are more interested in all conservation topics than women non-operating landowners; and, we also find stronger interest among women landowners with crop/livestock or crop/pasture mix than those with only row crops. Younger women landowners (<40 years old) also show a stronger interest in conservation topics than senior women landowners (70+ years old). We also explore women landowners’ preferences for receiving educational information to provide policy and extension implications. Survey results show strong preferences for periodic (e-)newsletters, followed by webinars, two-page fact sheets or infographics, and half-day in-person educational meetings. Elderly women landowners (70+ years old) prefer printed materials, and younger landowners prefer virtual meetings and in-person activities. Overall, women landowners prefer a mix of delivery methods with stronger preferences for virtual or printed delivery methods than in-person formats.