Targeting of agricultural conservation practices to cost-effective locations has long been of interest to watershed managers, yet its implementation cannot succeed without meaningful engagement of agricultural producers who are decision makers on the lands they farm. In this study, we engaged 14 west-central Indiana producers and landowners in an adaptive targeting experiment. Interviews carried out prior to targeting provided rich spatial information on existing conservation practices as well as producers’ preferences for future conservation projects. We targeted six of the most accepted conservation practices using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool and spatial optimization using a genetic algorithm approach. Fairly optimal conservation scenarios were possible with even the most limiting constraints of farmer-accepted practices. We presented in follow-up interviews a total of 176 conservation practice recommendations on 103 farm fields to 10 farmers whose lands were targeted for conservation. Primary findings indicated producers were interested in the project, were open to hearing recommendations about their lands, and expressed a high likelihood of adopting 35% of targeted recommendations. Farmers generally viewed the interview process and presentation of results quite favorably, and the interviews were found to build trust and make the targeting process more acceptable to them.
Kalcic, M.M., J. Frankenberger, I. Chaubey, L. Prokopy, and L. Bowling (2015): Adaptive targeting: Engaging farmers to improve targeting and adoption of agricultural conservation practices. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 51 (4). DOI: 10.1111/1752-1688.12336