Project seeks farmers’ attitudes on targeted conservation

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Project seeks farmers’ attitudes on targeted conservation

Aerial photo of Nebraska farmland
Craig Chandler | University Communication

A University of Nebraska–Lincoln project to gauge farmers’ attitudes about targeted conservation received a $109,999 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

Agricultural production in Nebraska has trended toward increased field sizes, removal of non-crop habitat and a reduction in crop diversity, with the goal of increasing yield and associated farm revenue. Despite increased farm productivity, rural and urban residents are increasingly affected by multiple emerging challenges including environmental concerns and economic uncertainties, said Andrew Little, assistant professor of natural resources and project lead.

Andrew Little

“New precision technologies and conservation planning frameworks offer potential solutions to optimize agricultural production and natural resource conservation by strategically targeting low-yielding acres for conservation program enrollment while farming highly profitable acres,” Little said.

This approach helps farmers and farmland owners increase whole-field profitability while reducing environmental impacts.

To understand Nebraska farmers and farmland owners’ willingness to participate in such targeting schemes, researchers will identify the key factors that facilitate or constrain their participation through socio-economic and behavioral surveys and focus groups. They also will conduct phone interviews with farmland owners (or absentee landowners), which is a critical demographic in Nebraska that may affect adoption of conservation programs.

“With this information, Nebraska conservation agencies and/or organizations can develop a coordinated effort to work with farmers and farmland owners to reduce environmental impacts while increasing whole-field profitability,” Little said.

This is the second year of the award, with potential third-year funding of $42,448.

The project is one of 23 Husker projects receiving more than $2.1 million from NET this year. In total, NET awarded 113 grants totaling more than $18 million in 2021.

The Nebraska Legislature created the NET in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the trust has provided more than $349 million in grants to more than 2,400 projects across the state. Anyone — citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses — can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The NET works to preserve, protect and restore the state’s natural resources for future generations.

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