Co-Developing Climate-Smart Strategies: Enhancing Resiliency Among Alabama Row Crop Producers and Agricultural Stakeholders
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology
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This thesis is embedded in a large USDA-NRCS project titled the Future of Farming: Increasing Adoption of Conservation Practices among Alabama Row Crop Farmers (FFP). The FFP is designed to demonstrate the benefits of several climate-smart technologies --cover crops, variable rate irrigation, soil moisture sensors--as well as nutrient management practices, to bolster soil health and improve water and nutrient use efficiency. Specifically, this research uses a collaborative, systems approach, to develop a shared understanding of the practices and technologies that may foster innovative conservation approaches to agricultural production through engaged learning opportunities, incentive payments for cover crop adoption, and on-farm demonstrations. This thesis is split into two papers as my contribution was two-fold. The first examines the co-development of a knowledgebase about climate-smart technologies, which required the use of innovative, collaborative, extension methods and meeting structures. Using a qualitative approach, the challenges of co-developing knowledge and conducting transdisciplinary science were identified using word frequency queries. The second identifies barriers to adoption of climate-smart technologies to inform the FFP research and extension team about the most effective ways to tailor discussion and meeting content. The statistical significance of actors that used climate related words was determined and supplemented by word frequency queries. Findings from both papers indicate a lack of regional-specific knowledge and engaged learning methods that impedes the teaching about and implementation of conservation-based farming methods. Results suggest Cooperative Extension ought to develop research relevant to the specific climate-based concerns of stakeholders in the Southeast and incorporate co-produced knowledge into the development of conservation strategies.