Agri-environmental schemes (AES) are the main policy instrument currently available in the EU to promote environmentally-friendly farming practices. However, the rate of adoption of these measures is still relatively low in southern Europe, and understanding how these rates can be increased is still an open issue. The goal of this paper is to increase that understanding by testing whether the factors which determine AES sign-up decisions are influenced by the intensity of change in farming practices that are brought about by adopting the scheme. A micro-economic model reflecting farmer AES sign-up decisions is proposed and applied to two schemes in Spain respectively requiring major or minor intensity of change in practices by surveying farmers eligible for both schemes. The results show that farm structural factors play a role when major practice change is required by the scheme, yet when dealing with minor change, individual farmer characteristics play a more determining role. Social capital and farmer attitude are important factors in both the AES surveyed. Therefore, it may be concluded that improving agronomic design would be an important tool to improve farmer participation in AES where major change is involved, whereas improved targeting and extension would help uptake for AES involving a lesser degree of change.