Proposed Submission Title

Likelihood of Soil Health Management Systems Users to Adopt Other Conservation Practices in the Big Pine Creek Watershed

Presenter Information

Emma WadeFollow

Keywords

conservation, farm operators, watershed, soil health management plan, Gulf hypoxia

Select the category the research project fits.

Social Sciences/Humanities

Is this submission part of ICaP/PW (Introductory Composition at Purdue/Professional Writing)?

No

Abstract

Since the 1970s, the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico has been growing due to fertilizer runoff and soil degradation. The hypoxic zone negatively impacts the productivity of aquatic ecosystems and threatens industries that rely on coastal areas. Soil Health Management Systems (SHMS) include farming practices that reduce nutrient runoff and downstream pollution. Farming practices impact downstream waterways, so it is important to understand what influences the adoption of conservation practices such as SHMS. A survey was developed to collect farmland owner/operator demographic information and to determine whether they adopt conservation practices. Five conservation practices were evaluated: SHMS, nutrient management plans, conservation plans, conservation tillage, and cover crops. We sought to understand if there were demographic differences between SHMS users and non-users and if SHMS users were more likely to adopt other conservation practices than SHMS non-users. Overall, the response rate was 36% (n=121) and just over a quarter (26%; n=96) of respondents use SHMS. Both SHMS users and non-users tended to be male, approximately 60 years old, and had about 35 years of farming experience. However, SHMS users had higher levels of education and tended to have smaller farm sizes than SHMS non-users. Additionally, SHMS users were more likely to implement the four other conservation practices than SHMS non-users. Low education and large farm size could be barriers to the adoption of conservation practices. To increase adoption, it might be effective to target farmers with lower education and larger farm sizes to create accessible conservation programs. Since SHMS use may increase the adoption of other conservation practices, it could be useful to facilitate the implementation of SHMS.

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Likelihood of Soil Health Management Systems Users to Adopt Other Conservation Practices in the Big Pine Creek Watershed

Since the 1970s, the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico has been growing due to fertilizer runoff and soil degradation. The hypoxic zone negatively impacts the productivity of aquatic ecosystems and threatens industries that rely on coastal areas. Soil Health Management Systems (SHMS) include farming practices that reduce nutrient runoff and downstream pollution. Farming practices impact downstream waterways, so it is important to understand what influences the adoption of conservation practices such as SHMS. A survey was developed to collect farmland owner/operator demographic information and to determine whether they adopt conservation practices. Five conservation practices were evaluated: SHMS, nutrient management plans, conservation plans, conservation tillage, and cover crops. We sought to understand if there were demographic differences between SHMS users and non-users and if SHMS users were more likely to adopt other conservation practices than SHMS non-users. Overall, the response rate was 36% (n=121) and just over a quarter (26%; n=96) of respondents use SHMS. Both SHMS users and non-users tended to be male, approximately 60 years old, and had about 35 years of farming experience. However, SHMS users had higher levels of education and tended to have smaller farm sizes than SHMS non-users. Additionally, SHMS users were more likely to implement the four other conservation practices than SHMS non-users. Low education and large farm size could be barriers to the adoption of conservation practices. To increase adoption, it might be effective to target farmers with lower education and larger farm sizes to create accessible conservation programs. Since SHMS use may increase the adoption of other conservation practices, it could be useful to facilitate the implementation of SHMS.