Top-down and centralized soil conservation programs have caused low adoption of sustainable practices. The adoption is a multistage and adaptive process that relies on the management of local knowledge. The results of 61 surveys were analyzed in order to systematize experiences of soil knowledge governance involving social organizations and farmers. Soil knowledge governance was done mainly through the sharing of experiences among farmers. This path resulted both in the strengthening of existing institutions and in the creation of new associative forms and rules. The incentives for farmers to maintain soil conservation practices went beyond the financial ones and reflected the diversity of their views and expectations: eating healthy food, diversifying agricultural production, and improving their social position in the community. The increased adoption of soil conservation practices that resulted from this approach led to the rethink the kind of public policies that would better help soil conservation in Mexico.
Key words: Public policy, soil conservation, soil knowledge governance, sustainable land management.
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