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Assessment of techniques for persuading farmers to adopt nitrate reducing practices - NT1201

This study will aim to assess the relative effectiveness of various communication techniques intended to persuade and enable farmers to adopt good agricultural practice in order to reduce levels of nitrogen (N) in water supplies. The success of previous and current attempts to influence agricultural practices towards environmental goals will be evaluated. A limited range of communication techniques will be developed and their impact on farmers’ knowledge, attitudes and intentions will be tested. The conceptual basis for the study includes models both of communication/persuasion processes and of farmer decision-making. The former stress the importance of source, message, channel and receiver variables, the ability of the communicator to adapt these to his purpose and an understanding of the cognitive processing which underlies peoples’ response to information designed to influence their behaviour. The latter suggest that explanations based purely on profit maximisation are inadequate and that a wider range of motives for changing behaviour should be considered. Techniques of information delivery will be based on those used in several completed and ongoing schemes designed to encourage environmentally acceptable farm practice, including: step by step instruction, with and without guidance from a consultant, to devise a farm-specific operational plan; use of a commercial consultancy; and legislation. The range of approaches taken will also take into account different appeals to the farmer, including fear of prosecution, prospect of financial gain and impact of public/peer pressure. The study will also provide useful baseline data for future assessment of the effects of different communication strategies on decisions made by farmers.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1994

To: 1996

Cost: £58,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Reading
Fields of Study
Fertilisers and Nitrate Pollution