An assistant professor of risk analysis and decision science in Ohio State University’s School of Environment and Natural Resources will discuss Maumee watershed farmers’ thoughts about nutrient loss and water quality as part of the 2012 Farm Science Review.
According to an Ohio State survey conducted earlier this year, the majority of farmers in the Maumee watershed, which drains into Lake Erie, are engaged in best management practices and are generally concerned about nutrient loss, Robyn Wilson said. They agree agriculture contributes to nutrient-related water quality issues, and are willing to take additional action to help solve the problem.
Wilson will discuss the survey and its findings during a presentation titled "Nutrient loss and water quality: A survey of farmer opinion" on Tuesday, Sept. 18, from 11:30 a.m. to noon. The program will take place at the Review’s Gwynne Conservation Area, near London.
“The majority of farmers have very positive attitudes toward taking action, agreeing that taking at least one additional action to reduce nutrient loss on their farm would be fair, beneficial and valuable,” Wilson said.
Through her research, Wilson is interested in learning the values, attitudes and beliefs of people who contribute to and are most impacted by environmental issues. The Western Basin of Lake Erie has experienced increasingly large algal blooms in recent years that threaten the economy of the region. These blooms are attributed to nutrient runoff from farm fields, along with a number of other factors, and are an issue of increasing significance.
“It is great to get the farmer perspective on these issues in Ohio, as I think there are a lot of assumptions about what farmers are thinking and what they are doing in relation to nutrient management,” Wilson said. “Farm Science Review is a great place to share these results because I want farmers to know they are being heard, and many of the farmers we have interacted with for this project are particularly interested in our findings.”
Wilson plans to share information about what farmers in the Maumee watershed think about nutrient loss - how concerned they are about it, how willing they are to take additional action to reduce nutrient loss, and so on - and a little about what they are already doing in terms of best management practices.
“The farmers who are more likely to be engaged in best management practices are not typically more stewardship-oriented or environmentally concerned, but they are more aware of the issues, more comfortable taking risks and have bigger farmer networks, meaning they are talking more often to other farmers across a larger geographic area,” she said.