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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    ABSTRACT: Non point source (NPS) pollution remains a challenge to communities meeting watershed management objectives around the world. Installing agricultural best management practices (BMPs) such as filter strips is a widely accepted mechanism to control NPS pollution and agricultural runoff. Government programs in the form of payment for environmental services (PES) have been introduced to encourage BMP adoption for watershed protection. However, the voluntary nature of these programs makes landown-ers' decision to participate in them critical to achieving program goals. Understanding the drivers behind landowners' decisions to participate in watershed protection programs is essential for designing effective and efficient programs. This study examines agricultural landowners' decisions to participate in a conservation program involving filter strips. Using responses from a survey of agricultural landowners in Michigan's Saginaw Bay watershed, the study examines key programmatic, socio-psychological, and demographic determinants of landowners' participation decisions. The study results suggest that making contract durations shorter with enhanced rental payments, and educating landowners about program efficacy as well as on-and off-farm benefits of the conservation practice would enhance participation.
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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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    ABSTRACT: Perennial grain crops are an example of a ‘transformative technology,’ in which the functionality and science of the technology differ in a fundamental manner from conventional grain crops. A review of the literature indicates that the motivation for farmer adoption of transformative technologies is complex and poorly understood. At the same time, many studies have found concern and awareness about environmental issues to be significantly and positively correlated with the adoption of no-till agriculture, organic farming and agroforestry. Building on these insights, we conducted an ex ante study of perennial wheat adoption among 11 farmers from Michigan and Ohio. Perennial wheat is not yet commercially available, so a semi-structured interview format was chosen to allow for in-depth discussions of the crop's potential characteristics and uses. Consistent with the literature on transformative technology adoption, farmers who approached us to learn more about perennial grains described soil and environmental quality as their primary motivations for doing so. Farmers suggested a total of ten different uses for perennial wheat, only one of which was mentioned specifically by interviewers. This diversity of proposed uses implied a wide range of criteria for adoption. A striking result was that the ability of perennial wheat to compete with annual wheat on the basis of yield, a focus of researchers, was brought up by only one of the interviewees, as many farmers proposed perennial wheat as a means of solving a problem for which no other crop provided an adequate solution, often by planting perennial wheat on an under-used or marginal area of the farm. This is suggestive that interacting with farmers could alter priorities in perennial grain improvement, as has occurred in other radically transformative agriculture technologies.
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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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