Tillage practices and identity formation in High Plains farming

Katherine Strand, Eric Arnould, Melea Press

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7 Citations (SciVal)


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 pages19
JournalJournal of Material Culture
Issue number4
Early online date6 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • Identity
  • landscape
  • materiality
  • roadside farming
  • tillage


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