Tillage practices and identity formation in High Plains farming

Eric Arnould, Katie Strand, Melea Press

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In this article, the authors examine the ideological tensions of organic and chemical farmers
in the High Plains. They show that the identity of these farmers is created and maintained
through competing systems of tillage and the ideologies that support them, which also shape
the agricultural landscape. Specifically, they compare conservation tillage wedded to ‘modern’
ideologies of scientific farming with conventional tillage newly linked to beliefs about both organic
and traditional farming, and examine how farmers use these different forms of tillage to create
their identities. Roadside farming, recognition and denunciation of other farmers’ practices,
and recognition and justification of their own contribute to identity formation. This research
contributes to the ongoing discussion of how identity is formed through day-to-day activities in
the material world. The plow creates divisions in the High Plains community between organic
farmers who continue to rely on this implement in their material engagement with the land and
the chemical farmers who distance their practices from the plow as they distinguish themselves
as stewards of the soil.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355– 373
Number of pages18
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • identity
  • landscape
  • materiality
  • tillage
  • roadside farming

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