The primary goal of this research was to determine the relevant socioeconomic, demographic and agricultural factors that influence the adoption and maintenance of agricultural best management practices. A general theoretic model describing the adoption of technology was modified and used for developing hypotheses to explain BMP adoption. To test the hypotheses, data was collected on 193 farm operators in three watersheds in Iowa. Four types of variables--personal and socioeconomic characteristics, land ecological characteristics, farm enterprise characteristics, and institutional factors--were examined for their effect on the adoption of BMPs. A two-stage regression analysis was used. The most important variables in explaining adoption of BMPs are the institutional factors.