Assessing German farmers’ trade-offs between disease resistance and yield in winter wheat varieties

Kerstin K. Zander, Pascal Blaise, Karin Holm-Müller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Disease resistant crop varieties are important for both disease control and for reducing chemical pesticide use. However, there is often a trade-off between disease resistance and yield. While the European Union has banned the use of some pesticides in agriculture, large amounts are still applied to various crops, including wheat. Market-based instruments could motivate farmers to adopt more environmentally friendly production methods. In this study we aimed to explore farmers’ adoption of resistant varieties in different wheat price scenarios and their willingness to forgo yield when cultivating more resistant varieties. We conducted face-to-face interviews with 192 farmers using a choice experiment. Results showed that farmers preferred traits of yield stability (fungal disease resistance, lodging resistance and drought tolerance) over yield. Preferences for traits varied with the production system; livestock production was negatively associated with the importance of yield; cultivated land area was positively associated with protein content. The market price scenario did not change preferences. We calculate that farmers are willing to forgo more yield by cultivating highly disease resistant varieties than they are likely to recuperate from reducing costs of pesticides. Overall, we conclude that farmers’ choices are based more on a combination of the production system, drought experience, climate change belief and the potential impact of further regulations to reduce the use of chemical pesticides than on the expected wheat price.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalOutlook on Agriculture
Issue number1
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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