Beliefs, Attitudes, and Behaviors Toward Conservation and Gulf Hypoxia Among Illinois Agriculture Producers

Craig A. Miller, Jerry J. Vaske, Laura Schweizer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Nutrient loads from agricultural operations throughout the Midwest drain from the Mississippi River to contribute to Gulf Hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The Eastern Tallgrass Prairie/Big Rivers Landscape Conservation Cooperative funded a study to examine agricultural producers’ perceptions of and attitudes toward this issue and conservation practices to remedy it. We conducted a mail survey of 3,000 agriculture producers proportionately stratified by enrollment in the U.S.D.A. Conservation Reserve Program and received a 36% response. The eight page questionnaire focused on motives for participating in conservation programs, attitudes toward conservation, and conservation practices (behaviors). Special emphasis was given to attitudes and behaviors related to nutrient reduction to reduce Gulf Hypoxia. In terms of responsible conservation behavior, a majority (89.7%) of respondents agreed to the statement “It is my responsibility to decrease fertilizer runoff into streams” and 71% agreed to the statement that “It is my responsibility to protect water quality in the Gulf of Mexico.” Most respondents (84%) felt farmers were doing their part to protect water quality, 90% believed their personal farming practices improved local water quality, 71% agreed their practices improved water quality in the Gulf of Mexico. A majority respondents (78%) agreed that conservation tillage on their farms would increase water quality, 86% believed that if more farmers practiced conservation tillage water quality would improve, and 90% agreed they had a responsibility to improve water quality through their farm management. Such expressed beliefs did not correspond to behaviors. A minority (39.5%) of farmers in our study participated in the Conservation Reserve Program, and of those 5% did not plan to renew their contracts. Minorities implemented stream buffers (21%), filter strips (31%), and contour grass strips (10%). This presentation will explore relationships between these and other stated beliefs and attitudes toward conservation and behaviors.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGreat Waters, Great Lands, Great Responsibilities: 76th Midwest Fish & Wildlife Conference, January 24-27, 2016, Grand Rapids Michigan
StatePublished - 2016


  • INHS


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