Challenges within the human dimensions of agricultural nitrogen management and water quality

C. G. Flint, M. B. David, L. E. Gentry, George F. Czapar

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


While cutting-edge scientific and engineering discovery is essential for addressing complex environmental challenges such as nutrient loading in US watersheds, improvement is unlikely unless agricultural operators adopt conservation practices and decision makers at multiple scales appreciate diverse perspectives. Thus, the human dimensions of water quality risk perception, trust in governance and information, and factors constraining and enabling innovation adoption from the vantage point of farmers are essential to fully understanding and addressing this agricultural water quality dilemma. The social science components of two watershed scale projects on managing denitrification in the heavily tile drained Embarras and upper Salt Fork watersheds in east-central Illinois focus on factors influencing conservation practice adoption (managed drainage, tile bioreactors, constructed wetlands) and water quality risk perceptions. While results show farmers are generally engaged in conservation and willing to consider new technologies and approaches, water quality risk perceptions are not high and downstream problems are rarely seen as a priority. Farmers in these watersheds reveal skepticism of regulatory approaches and have varying preferences for mode of information delivery, and specific concerns and needs, such as cost and flexibility, which, if not addressed, may limit the overall adoption and utilization of engineering advances to address nutrient runoff.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationVisions for a sustainable planet: American Society for Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America International Annual Meetings: Symposium--Managing Denitrification in Agronomic Systems to Reduce Nitrate Loss: Methods, Unknowns, and Limits to Adoption.; 21-24 October 2012; Cincinnati, OH
StatePublished - 2012


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