SNR News Story

Posted: 7/15/2020

Targeted conservation survey of farmers one of several SNR-based projects awarded Nebraska Environmental Trust funding

Discussion in field
A new University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources project led by Andrew Little, assistant professor of Landscape and Habitat Management, that is funded by a Nebraska Environmental Trust grant will survey state farmers and farmland owners' willingness to participate in similar projects. Source: Nebraska Pheasants Forever

The Nebraska Environmental Trust recently awarded 21 grants totaling over $1.9 million to University of Nebraska-Lincoln projects, including several housed at the School of Natural Resources. The SNR projects include an effort to survey farmers about their willingness to participate in targeted conservation projects. The $104,971 grant was awarded to project lead Andrew Little, Assistant Professor of Landscape Ecology and Habitat Management.

In the proposal, Little wrote that agricultural producers in Nebraska have trended toward maximizing crop production by way of increasing field sizes, reducing crop diversity and removing non-crop habitat on farmland. Though farm productivity has increased in many instances, the process of devoting more land to fewer crop varieties leaves rural and urban residents susceptible to emerging environmental concerns (water pollution and soil erosion, for example) and economic uncertainties.

In an effort to mitigate those concerns, researchers have developed new precision technology and conservation planning frameworks that strategically target low-yielding acres for alternative management options while farming high-yielding acres in an effort to optimize agricultural production and natural resource conservation. This approach helps farmers and farmland owners increase whole-field profitability while reducing environmental impacts. To understand Nebraska farmers and farmland owners' willingness to participate in such targeting schemes, Little and his research team will identify key factors that facilitate or constrain their participation through socio-economic and behavioral surveys, focus groups and phone interviews. With this information, Nebraska conservation agencies and/or organizations can develop a coordinated effort to work with farmers and farmland owners to reduce environmental impacts while increasing whole-field profitability.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $328 million in grants to over 2,300 projects across the state. Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses – can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The Nebraska Environmental Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations.