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14-08-2021 | Issue 4/2021

Environmental Management 4/2021

Assessing the Accuracy of Farmers’ Nutrient Loss Risk Perceptions

Journal:
Environmental Management > Issue 4/2021
Authors:
Elizabeth R. Schwab, Margaret M. Kalcic, Robyn S. Wilson
Important notes

Supplementary information

The online version contains supplementary material available at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00267-021-01519-1.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Abstract

Use of nutrient management practices to reduce nutrient loss from agriculture and its associated water quality consequences, including hypoxia and eutrophication, is widely encouraged. However, little is known about which factors influence farmers’ risk perceptions associated with nutrient loss, and thus possibly influence their decisions to adopt such practices. To determine which factors were associated with relative “accuracy” of nutrient loss–associated risk perceptions, specific farm field management information was used as inputs to a Soil and Water Assessment Tool model of the study watershed to produce water quality outputs for each modeled farm field. This information was paired with farmers’ risk perceptions associated with nutrient loss on their farm to assess relative “accuracy” of each farmer’s perceptions compared to the rest of the farmers in the study. We then investigated characteristics of the farm and farmer that are associated with comparative “overprediction” and “underprediction” of risk, and found that characteristics of the individual (conservation identity, prior conservation practice adoption, efficacy beliefs, and perceived seriousness of the consequences of nutrient loss) are more important in determining whether farmers are likely to “overpredict” or “underpredict” risk than is the objective (modeled) vulnerability of their land to nutrient loss.

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