Dueling Conservation Perspectives? : Agricultural conservation, local knowledge and information networks throughout the Delmarva Peninsula

Authors: Jaime Barrett*, University of Delaware
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Rural Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: agriculture, best management practices, conservation, assemblage, agri-environmental schemes
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom B, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Agricultural conservation is of federal and state concern in the United States as evidenced by the current and previous Farm Bill. Agricultural conservation is enacted through the use of agricultural best management practices (BMPs), which are conservation practices that address a range of resource concerns including soil health and water quality. Current evidence indicates that adoption of conservation practices is in response to a number of different socioeconomic factors coupled with individual perceptions of conservation. These perspectives may be influenced by a myriad of state mechanisms and social relationships that pressure farmers into being environmental stewards. This research uses BMPs as a lens to investigate farmer perceptions of conservation practices throughout the Delmarva Peninsula, which is an area on the forefront of environmental initiatives relating to water quality. Thirty semi-structured interviews were coupled with participant observation to investigate farmer perceptions of conservation practices and the resource concerns and information sources that influence the decision to implement these practices. Preliminary results indicate that farmers are interested in conservation practices based on their perceived practicality as they can work in conjunction with existing farming practices and have the potential to reduce input cost while maintaining profitability. Results from this study also indicate that there is an social network of actors that work in close association to determine the viability of conservation practices within the local context, which includes scientific institutions, various state and county agencies and farmers.

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