Farmers' Motivations for Adopting Conservation Practices along Riparian Zones in a Mid-western Agricultural Watershed

Journal of Environmental Planning and Management (Impact Factor: 1.45). 01/2003; 46(1):19-37. DOI: 10.1080/713676702
Source: RePEc


In the agricultural Mid-west, riparian corridors are vital for protecting biodiversity and water quality. The cumulative management decisions of hundreds of private landowners have a tremendous impact on this riparian zone. This study of 268 farmers in a typical Mid-western watershed in Michigan looked at farmer's motivations for adopting conservation practices, their current management practices along their rivers and drains as well as their future management plans. The results of the study showed that farmers are intrinsically motivated to practise conservation by such factors as their attachment to their land, rather than by motivations such as receiving economic compensation. Farmers are also likely to engage in conservation practices that make their farm appear well-managed. Furthermore, those farmers with strong intrinsic motivations were likely to adopt conservation practices that protect streams, such as maintaining a woody vegetative buffer or practicing no-till farming. This study shows that protecting riparian resources in agricultural watersheds requires strategies for conservation that respect farmers' attachment to their land and their desire to practise good stewardship.

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Available from: Raymond K De Young, Dec 30, 2013
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    • "Likewise, Greiner and Gregg (2011) points to a strong stewardship ethic relative to financial and social considerations as the primary motivation for conservation practice adoption among Australian farmers. Ryan et al. (2003) also found that farmers are likely to engage in conservation practices that are esthetically pleasing and make their farms appear well managed. Socio-psychological scholars also emphasize the relevance of social norms and concerns in individual behavioral decisionmaking (Larson and Lach, 2008; Mzoughi, 2011). "
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    • "Kaufmann et al. found that positive perceptions about the impact of organic farming methods on human, wildlife and plant health significantly correlates with organic adoption decisions (Kaufmann et al., 2011). Ryan et al. found that among the major reasons farmers in Midwestern riparian zones adopt woody vegetation cover and no-till are the reduction of agrochemical use, the protection of stream health, and to make their farms appear well-managed (Ryan et al., 2003). Trozzo et al. (2014) as well as Strong and Jacobson (2006) have reported that farmers who adopt agroforestry consider it to have offered beneficial environmental impacts such as water quality enhancement , wildlife preservation and soil protection. "
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    • "In light of prior studies of farmers' values and place connections (e.g., Ryan et al. 2010), these findings indicate that a more comprehensive understanding of farmers' values, place connections, and sustainability-related decisions may be important in understanding individual farmer's actions as well as the broader implications of those actions for landuse changes and environmental impacts. It further builds on previous concepts by providing the novel comparison of environmental values and sense of place to show a pattern of strengths and weaknesses, and a generally complimentary nature. "
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