Nitrogen from agricultural nonpoint source pollution is a primary cause of water quality impairments in the Mississippi River Basin. The cumulative effects of nitrogen loading cause water resource problems at local, regional, and national scales as epitomized by the hypoxic "dead zone" at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Agricultural best management practices (BMPs) designed to reduce nitrogen runoff are promoted across the U.S., yet adoption rates are discouragingly low. This study explores farmer perspectives on BMP adoption using interviews with 30 farmers across two agricultural watersheds in southern Minnesota. The research questions that drove this study are 1) What drives nitrogen best management practice adoption among farmers in the study watersheds? 2) What constrains nitrogen best management practice adoption?, and, 3) What role do personal norms play in influencing best management practice decisions? Study findings suggest that three primary drivers (land stewardship, economics, and personal responsibility) motivate BMP adoption; seven primary constraints (including economics, knowledge, and autonomy) hinder adoption; and egoistic, social/altruistic, and biospheric-driven personal norms play varied and influential roles in BMP adoption. An understanding of how drivers, constraints, and personal norms combine to influence farmer decision-making processes is described using the Norm Activation Theory. These drivers, constraints, and the role of personal norms may prove useful when approaching farmers to participate in conservation programs or in tailoring conservation programs to fit farmers' needs.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. May 2013. Major: Natural Resources Science and Management. Advisor: Mae A. Davenport. 1 computer file (PDF); appendices A-M.
Olson, Bjorn Anders.
Farmer beliefs and personal norms associated with nitrogen best management practices in the Rush River and Elm Creek Watersheds, Mn.
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