This proposal directly addresses three sustainable agriculture challenges in Nebraska and the Corn Belt more broadly: 1) annual crop production of corn and soybean that comprises 81% of state cropland, which due to limited conservation adoption is at risk of continuing to degrade soil and water; 2) the challenges landowners and tenants face in collaboratively planning conservation to address these concerns; and 3) educating the future agricultural workforce to understand the social dimensions involved in conservation planning among landowners and tenants.
In the context of these challenges: how can agricultural scientists, professionals, and advisors better facilitate landowners and tenants working together to prioritize conservation? This proposal addresses this question through a pilot project creatively integrating research studying landowner-tenant relationships and undergraduates’ learning, creating tools for intervention and change.
This proposal will partner working farms whose landowners are interested in or actively pursuing diversification, conservation, and sustainability with a senior undergraduate course. Analysis of qualitative (landowner-tenant interviews and student surveys) and quantitative data (resource inventory of the farms) will result in case studies of conservation navigation for use by agricultural professionals, landowners, and tenants, as well as a pedagogical model for use in other classes engaged in on-farm research and management.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Analyze how landowner-tenant conservation decision-making influences conservation implementation in specific on-farm scenarios through social and agronomic research
- Identify and evaluate enabling or impeding factors within landowner-tenant conservation collaboration to inform intervention and farm-scale change
- Generate new and extend existing knowledge of landowner-tenant relationships to analyze specific navigations of conservation decision-making on-farm
- Develop conservation case studies and tools for use by agricultural professionals and landowner-tenant teams
- Analyze agricultural student learning of conservation planning and its complex human dimensions through integration within undergraduate education
- Create an educational module to instruct future agricultural leaders in the complex human dimensions of on-farm conservation planning