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Does Collaboration Promote Grass-Roots Behavior Change? Farmer Adoption of Best Management Practices in Two Watersheds

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Collaborative watershed management has been prescribed as a means to foster environmental behavior change among resource users. Yet little empirical research has examined this claim. This study compares the adoption of agricultural best management practices between collaborative and noncollaborative settings. Using survey and interview data, we compare farmers in two watersheds: one with a grass-roots collaborative partnership and one without. In addition, we compare participating and nonparticipating farmers within the watershed that has the collaborative partnership. Results indicate farmers in the watershed with the partnership do not have higher rates of best management practices (BMPs) adoption than farmers in the watershed with a traditional, agency-based approach encouraging BMP adoption. However, this does not mean collaboration has no effect on BMP adoption, as partnership participants exhibited higher levels of BMP adoption than did nonparticipants in the same watershed. Thus collaboration is not a panacea; rather, it is more appropriate for some contexts than others.
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Keywords: BMPs; agricultural practices; collaboration; watershed management

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State University, ColumbusOhio, USA

Publication date: 2011-11-01

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