Graham Sustainability Institute

An In-depth Examination of Farmers’ Perceptions of Targeting Conservation Practices

July 2014

As published in Environmental Management. Authors include Margaret Kalcic, Linda Prokopy, Jane Frankenberger, and Indrajeet Chaubey.

Watershed managers have largely embraced targeting of agricultural conservation as a way to manage strategically non-point source pollution from agricultural lands. However, while targeting of particular watersheds is not uncommon, targeting farms and fields within a specific watershed has lagged. In this work, the researchers employed a qualitative approach, using farmer interviews in west-central Indiana to better understand their views on targeting. Interviews focused on adoption of conservation practices on farmers’ lands and identified their views on targeting, disproportionality, and monetary incentives. Results show consistent support for the targeting approach, despite dramatic differences in farmers’ views of land stewardship, in their views about disproportionality of water quality impacts, and in their trust in conservation programming. While the theoretical concept of targeting was palatable to all participants, many raised concerns about its practical implementation, pointing to the need for flexibility when applying targeting solutions and revealing misgivings about the government agencies that perform targeting.