A University of Nebraska–Lincoln project to study targeted conservation has received a $104,971 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.
The project leader is Andrew Little, assistant professor of landscape and habitat management in the School of Natural Resources.
Agricultural production in Nebraska has trended toward increased field sizes, removal of non-crop habitat and reduced crop diversity, such as corn and soybean rotations, 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. These include environmental concerns such as water pollution, soil erosion and economic uncertainties.
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 alternative management options – such as conservation program enrollment, livestock integration into row crop systems and rotation of cereals and other crops with corn/soybean, among others – while farming highly profitable acres. This approach helps farmers and farmland owners increase whole-field profitability while reducing environmental impacts.
To understand the willingness of Nebraska farmers and farmland owners to participate in such targeting schemes, Husker researchers will identify the key factors that facilitate or constrain their participation through socioeconomic and behavioral surveys and focus groups. Additionally, they 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.
This is the first year of the award, with potential second- and third-year funding of $109,999 and $42,448, respectively.
The project is one of 118 receiving $20 million in grant awards from the NET this year. Of these, 73 were new applications and 45 are carry-over projects.
The Nebraska Legislature created the NET in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the trust has provided more than $328 million in grants to more than 2,300 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 Nebraska Environmental Trust works to preserve, protect and restore the state’s natural resources for future generations.