Incorporating native grasses for conservation into pastures of the Upper Midwest: Assessing farmer attitudes

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2004: $9,570.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Grant Recipient: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Randall Jackson
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: other, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing - multispecies
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems

    Proposal abstract:

    I propose to assess farmer attitudes about incorporating a specific conservation practice, managing for coexistence of native warm-season and exotic cool-season grasses, into their livestock production management system. Through surveys and interviews with new and existing farmer contacts, I will record: 1) farmer attitudes towards conservation 2) willingness of farmers to implement specific conservation practices, 3) perceived obstacles to implementation of native grass re-introduction, and 4) a case-study of one farmer’s experience with the re-introduction of native grasses on his farm. This information will help researchers, agency personnel and policymakers better understand farmer perceptions and needs, resulting in more directed conservation policy and more focused agroecosystem research. In turn, this will lead to more sustainable agricultural communities via improved environmental quality and farm profitability, which will enhance the quality of life for farmers and rural populations. The proposed project will demonstrate the benefits of farmer input into the research process and promote the concept that farmers can simultaneously produce commodities and provide important ecosystem services to society at-large. Under the guidance of a rural sociologist I will formulate and continually review survey and interview questions to ensure pertinent results. I will attend annual grazing conferences and meetings to increase the visibility of this research, extend results, and increase farmer participation. Products will include peer-reviewed publications, a Ph.D. dissertation, and presentations at field-days, conferences, and to interested conservation/research groups. Outcome indicators include a successful defense of a Ph.D. dissertation to a multi-disciplinary committee and reaction to papers and presentations.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project will provide information to farmers, agency personnel, conservationists, and researchers of the Upper Midwest about the potential for incorporating a conservation effort, native grass re-introduction, into farm management. Expected short-term outcomes are:
    1) Documentation of farmer attitudes towards conservation in general.
    2) Understanding of the willingness of farmers to implement specific conservation techniques.
    3) Description of perceived obstacles to implementation of native grass re-introduction.
    4) A case-study of one farmer’s experience with re-introduction of native grasses and the “on-farm” research process.

    Intermediate-term outcomes: The short-term outcomes listed above will directly benefit those planning conservation projects and implementing policy by helping them focus their efforts on farmers willing to apply conservation techniques. It will also help policy makers fashion incentives for those less willing to implement such management. Researchers will gain insight into the perceptions and needs of farmers, which will help them formulate relevant scientific questions. Finally, the activities described in this proposal will boost farmer participation in the conservation process, potentially altering negative attitudes and increasing motivation to apply conservation management.

    Long-term outcomes: The information this project generates will help researchers and policy makers develop conservation-production oriented projects that are needed and realistic; such practices will be implemented more frequently and have greater long-term success. Therefore, more farmers will be likely to adopt these practices, improving environmental quality on a large scale. This in turn will create a better quality of life for the farmer and society at-large, but almost as important, it will create an appreciation for the ecosystem services that the agricultural community provides to society. This work will foster dialogue and working relationships among the scientific and producer community that should demonstrate the value of farmer input into the research process.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.