Farmers' Motivations for Adopting Conservation Practices along Riparian Zones in a Mid-western Agricultural Watershed
ABSTRACT 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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ABSTRACT: The Endangered Species Act of 1973 has served as the defacto biodiversity policy in the United States; however, heavy-handed implementation early in the act's history led private landowners to avoid managing land to benefit endangered species. By reducing costs and increasing benefits to landowners, voluntary incentive programs (VIPs) potentially bridge the gap between a policy that discourages beneficial land management on private lands and the need to enhance recovery efforts. However, the effectiveness of VIPs is bound to landowner participation. With the use of a sample of rangeland landowners in central Texas, we examined the potential for private landowners to enroll in an incentive program to protect and maintain habitat for endangered songbirds. First, we characterized landowners based on the centrality of production-oriented agriculture to their lifestyle. This measure of lifestyle centrality was comprised of self-identification as a rancher/farmer, dependence on land for income, and rootedness to the land. Second, we examined the relationship between lifestyle centrality, attitude, and participation in a VIP. With the use of structural-equation modeling, we found attitude toward enrolling mediated the relationship between centrality and a landowner's intention to enroll in a VIP. In addition to demographic analyses, social variables such as attitudes, beliefs, and motivations are needed to understand fully the multiple underlying reasons for participation and nonparticipation in a VIP and to design effective interventions to enhance participation. Resumen La ley de especies en peligro de extinción de 1973 ha servido como la política en práctica de la biodiversidad en los Estados Unidos; sin embargo, la aplicación al inicio de la ley llevó a productores privados a evitar que el manejo de la tierra beneficiara a las especies en peligro de extinción. Reduciendo los costos y aumentando los beneficios para los propietarios de las tierras el programa de incentivo voluntario (VIPs) posiblemente abre una posibilidad entre una política que desalienta los beneficios del manejo de la tierra en la propiedad privada y la necesidad de intensificar los esfuerzos de recuperación. Sin embargo, la efectividad de los VIPs está vinculada con la participación de los propietarios. Utilizando una muestra de los propietarios de pastizales en la parte central de Texas se examinó la posibilidad de que los propietarios privados se inscribieran en un programa de incentivos para proteger y mantener el hábitat para aves canoras en peligro de extinción. Primero, se caracterizó a los productores basándose en la centralidad de la agricultura orientada a la producción y a su estilo de vida. Esta medida de centralidad del estilo de vida se basó en auto identificación como ganadero y/o agricultor, la dependencia de la tierra para sus ingresos así como el arraigo a la tierra. Segundo, se examinó la relación entre la centralidad del estilo de vida, la actitud y la participación en un VIP. Por medio del modelado de ecuaciones estructurales, nos enfocamos en actitud para registrarse por la relación entre la centralidad y la intención del propietario de inscribirse en un VIP. Además de los análisis demográficos, las variables sociales como las actitudes, creencias y motivaciones se necesitan para entender las razones múltiples detrás de la participación y no participación en un VIP y permiten diseñ ar intervenciones eficaces para mejorar la participación.
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ABSTRACT: Large tracts of lowlands have been drained to expand extensive agriculture into areas that were historically categorized as wasteland. This expansion in agriculture necessarily coincided with changes in ecosystem structure, biodiversity, and nutrient cycling. These changes have impacted not only the landscapes in which they occurred, but also larger water bodies receiving runoff from drained land. New approaches must append current efforts toward land conservation and restoration, as the continuing impacts to receiving waters is an issue of major environmental concern. One of these approaches is agricultural drainage management. This article reviews how this approach differs from traditional conservation efforts, the specific practices of drainage management and the current state of knowledge on the ecology of drainage ditches. A bottom-up approach is utilized, examining the effects of stochastic hydrology and anthropogenic disturbance on primary production and diversity of primary producers, with special regard given to how management can affect establishment of macrophytes and how macrophytes in agricultural landscapes alter their environment in ways that can serve to mitigate non-point source pollution and promote biodiversity in receiving waters.Biology 01/2012; 1(3):794-856.
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ABSTRACT: Biodiversity declines in farmland have been attributed to intensification of farming at the field level and loss of heterogeneity at the landscape level. However, farmers are not solely optimizing production; their actions are also influenced by social factors, tradition and interest in nature, which indirectly influence biodiversity but rarely are incorporated in studies of farmland biodiversity. We used social science methods to quantify farmers' interest in nature on 16 farms with winter wheat fields in central Sweden, and combined this with biodiversity inventories of five organism groups (weeds, carabid beetles, bumblebees, solitary bees, and birds) and estimates of landscape composition and management intensity at the field level. Agricultural intensity, measured as crop density, and farmers' interest in nature explained variation in biodiversity, measured as the proportion of the regional species richness found on single fields. Interest in nature seemed to incorporate many actions taken by farmers and appeared to be influenced by both physical factors, for example, the surrounding landscape, and social factors, for example, social motivations. This study indicates that conservation of biodiversity in farmland, and design of new agri-environmental subsidy systems, would profit from taking farmers' interest in nature and its relation to agricultural practices into account.International Journal of Ecology. 05/2013; 2013.