Farmer attitudes toward production of perennial energy grasses in east central illinois: Implications for community-based decision making

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Throughout the Midwestern United States, land owners and managers, mainly farmers, are increasingly considering the possibility of transforming industrial agricultural landscapes that currently are used almost strictly for food production to landscapes that include renewable energy production. Because most land in this region is privately owned and independently farmed, transformation of the landscape will be the product of myriad decisions by individual farmers. Little is known about the geographic, environmental, and sociocultural forces that influence farmers' decisions. We use survey methods and a geographic information system (GIS)-aided focus group to elicit farmers' perspectives on growing perennial energy grasses such as switchgrass in central Illinois. Approximately one third of surveyed farmers are willing to plant energy grasses if a local market exists. Farmers' planting decisions are bound up with their understandings of land suitability for planting at the farmstead and regional scales. Through a GIS-aided focus group, participants defined lands suitable for energy grass production-marginal lands-not purely in environmental terms but in relation to existing cropping patterns, farming operations, land parcel characteristics, and the social relations of farming. We find that farmers perceive an array of economic, social, and geographic barriers to energy grass cultivation and that these perspectives deserve attention in renewable energy policy debates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)852-862
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Volume101
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011

Keywords

  • Bioenergy
  • Farmers' decision making
  • Gis-aided focus group
  • Marginal land
  • Midwestern united states

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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