Engaging Farmers to Improve Communication and Model Representation of Agricultural Ecosystem Services

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2010: $9,997.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Grant Recipient: Purdue University
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Indrajeet Chaubey
Purdue University
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Jane Frankenberger
Purdue University

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn, soybeans


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: decision support system, focus group
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, biodiversity, grass waterways, habitat enhancement, indicators, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, wetlands, wildlife
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Sustainable Communities: public policy, social capital


    The goal of our project was to evaluate how Indiana farmers describe, understand, and value ecosystem services. In 2012 we interviewed 15 farmers about their knowledge of ecosystem services, surveyed 200+ farmers about their knowledge of ecosystem services, surveyed 30+ National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) conservationists, and then presented these results at an academic conference. In 2013, we analyzed the results from the farmer interviews and the farmer and conservationist surveys. In 2014, three focus groups were held across Indiana to further understand farmers’ views on ecosystem services.


    Land use and land management inherently control the provision of ecosystem services.  Ecosystem services are defined as benefits that people obtain from their environment and are critical for human well-being. Since over 40% of our landscapes are agricultural, there is a need to engage agricultural land managers and owners to improve and restore ecosystem services in the landscape. Although many agricultural lands are managed primarily to provide food, by using an ecosystem service based approach to management, we can begin to manage agricultural lands in ways that maintain multiple ecosystem services.

    Project objectives:

    Our main objectives were to:

    1) identify knowledge gaps in farmer understanding of ecosystem services

    2) develop a shared environmental and economic language for effectively communicating about ecosystem services to farmers. 

    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.