The degradation of the natural resource base that derives from unsustainable farm practices is of major concern in Australia. Confronted with mounting evidence of the extent of this degradation, governments have employed a variety of policy instruments to induce change amongst the farming community. However, there remains a widely-held view that the rate of adoption of alternative practices falls well short of that required to avert disaster and additional measures are required to accelerate change. In this context, an understanding of the processes that lead particular farmers to adopt current recommended practices would provide valuable insights to assist policy formulation. Whilst some work has been undertaken in this area, a major deficiency resides in the failure to acknowledge the important role of ‘with-person’ factors, like personality and values or objectives. This paper reports the results of a study that deliberately set about to measure these within-person variables to enable policy makers to focus on those attributes most susceptible to change. Data were collected from over 500 farmers in the NSW Murray catchment which enabled the isolation of the farmers’ personality, objectives and attitudes to different farming practices. The results provide a useful contrast to other studies in this field by highlighting those aspects of the farmers’ decision that are most malleable to policy intervention.