2nd UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Rachel Divine
Session Name Poster Session: Human Dimensions of Water Sustainability 1
Category Human dimensions of water sustainability
Poster Number 109
Author(s) Rachel Divine,  Graduate Student Department of Agriculture Education and Communication
  Hannah Carter,  Assistant Professor Department of Agriculture Education and Communication
  Paul Monaghan, Assistant Professor Department of Agriculture Education and Communication
  Factors associated with farmer adoption of Best Management Practices in the Suwannee River Water Management District of North Florida
  By 1998, the nitrate problem in the Suwannee River Basin was a well-documented concern. The nitrogen readings in the Basin were consistently higher than in comparable water bodies in the region and agriculture was cited as a major contributor. The Suwannee River Partnership (SRP) was created in 1999 as a response to a need for collaboration between multiple political and private entities to solve the nitrogen problem. The main goal of the Partnership is to improve water quality and reduce water usage within the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) without regulations. The Partnership uses a watershed approach and seeks a balance between protecting natural resources and sustaining the agricultural economy. The purpose of this research was to identify and describe all factors that contribute to farmer adoption or rejection of Best Management Practices (BMPs). BMPs are scientifically proven to be the most effective, practical means of preventing or reducing pollution from non-point sources like agriculture. The researcher also assessed the communication channels used by farmers in the SRWMD and how the SRP uses these channels as well as its programs and materials to encourage BMP adoption. A qualitative method was used in this study to provide a deep understanding of farmers’ perceptions of BMPs and the SRP. Participants were interviewed using a semi-structured format. Participants included SRP staff members and dairy, poultry and field crop farmers in the SRWMD. The results to date show that money and trust are the most important factors contributing to farmer adoption of BMPs. The majority of farmers want to participate in a BMP program because of the economic savings BMP participation provides. Farmers do not want to waste their inputs. Farmers generally trust the one-on-one relationships that the SRP provides which encourages them to adopt.