INRC Fall Water Research Seminar Series
October 28, 2020
Understanding farmer and landowner decision-making and message preference concerning conservation practice adoption in the Clear Creek Watershed
Presenter: Erin O Heiden, assistant director, Center for Social & Behavioral Research (CSBR), Universitiy of Northern Iowa
Agriculture in Iowa provides many benefits to the state, but also serves as the largest contributor to water quality challenges throughout Iowa as well as in downstream rivers and streams. While many farmers across Iowa have adopted conservation practices, a large number have still not adopted conservation practices shown to decrease nutrient loading in waterways and to mitigate the impacts from agricultural activities on water quality in their watersheds. This study provided an in-depth understanding of decision-making around conservation practice adoption across four farmer types (owner-operators, tenant farmers, owner-tenants and non-operating landowners) through interviews with 15 individuals in Johnson and Iowa Counties. It also identified persuasive conservation messages for use with these groups when seeking to encourage adoption of farming practices that will improve water quality. When designing persuasive messaging as a means to promote water quality practices, a multi-tiered messaging strategy that addresses both an ethic of care for the land and as specific conservation practices is suggested and will be discussed.
About the presenter: Erin O Heiden, Ph.D., MPH, has extensive training in public health and evaluation methods and leads CSBR projects focused on program evaluation of education, public health and transportation initiatives. Since 1967, CSBR has assisted public organizations in answering questions about public opinion, participant behaviors and the implementation and impacts of their programs. Topics assessed in its 800+ projects include many related to education, transportation, public health and environment in recent years. CSBR is currently or has recently been the evaluator for a number of applied studies of watersheds and water quality for the Iowa DNR.