Three out of four farmers are away of sustainable agricultural practices.

And nearly 70 percent say they are taking steps toward sustainable practices. Of those, direct seeding, minimizing chemical use and crop rotation are the most popular.

Those are the findings of a survey of U.S. farmers and ranchers conducted on behalf of the New York-based Rabobank.

A total of 458 responded to the computerized-assisted telephone survey, which was conducted by ICR of Media, Pa., between Feb. 2 and 11.

The survey targeted farmers and ranchers who owned or operated farms grossing $250,000 or more in either the Midwest/North-Central, South or West. The areas coincided with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Census of Agriculture regions.

In the North-Central and Southern regions, more farms that grossed more than $1 million annually have taken steps toward sustainable agriculture than smaller farms.

In the North-Central region, for example, 89 percent of the higher revenue farms had taken steps compared with 67 percent for the smaller farms. In the South, 97 percent of respondents say they are moving toward sustainability compared with 65 percent of smaller farms.

But the opposite is true for farms in the West, according to the survey. Nearly 75 percent of lower-income farmers say they have moved toward sustainable agriculture compared with just 51 percent for farms with more than $1 million revenue.

Regardless of the region, nearly two-thirds of farmers who have moved toward sustainable agriculture say their job has become more difficult, compared with just 39 percent for those who have not taken the steps.

And seven of 10 farmers who are moving toward agriculture say their input costs have worsened during the past year, according to the survey.