Increasing Farmer Engagement with Conservation Practices

Iowa landscape
Practice: 
Multi-Objective

Title:  Increasing farmer engagement with conservation practices through more effective communication strategies: A media content analysis, stakeholder survey, and digital message test

Location:  Statewide

Time Period:  2019-2021

Research Team:  Laura Witzling, Dara Wald, and Jacqueline Comito

Project Description:  “Increasing farmer engagement with conservation practices through more effective communication strategies: A media content analysis, stakeholder survey, and digital message test” is a collaboration between the Iowa Learning Farms and communication researchers at Iowa State University in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. The long-term objective of the project is to grow current farmer and landowner engagement in conservation practices. Organizations like the Iowa Learning Farms have taken steps to engage farmers, but more work is needed to amplify such efforts and to call attention to a greater diversity of conservation options, and to younger and female farmers and landowners. In order grow engagement, project partners will first evaluate existing messages about conservation and barriers to conservation action designed to minimize nutrient loss. The content analysis will include messages that appear in agricultural news media publications and messages that appear in media produced by key farmer organizations. Using transcripts from interviews with farmers, messages produced by farmers themselves will also be analyzed. Next, Iowa farmers and landowners will be surveyed in order to better understand their perspectives on conservation practices and communication preferences. Lastly, project partners will take what they’ve learned from the content analysis and survey and create different messages promoting online resources about conservation and a field day (an educational event where farmers can learn about different conservation practices) on social media. The messages will be evaluated based on their ability to generate clicks and attendance at the field day. Project partners expect that this project will ultimately result in more effective message strategies for engaging farmer audiences in conservation practices aimed at reducing surface water nutrient loss, and more effective message strategies for engaging farmers in less popular conservation practices aimed at reducing surface water nutrient loss.

Publications:

Funders:  Iowa Nutrient Research Center