Influences on farmer decision-making behaviour considering a payment for ecosystem services scheme: farmers’ and scheme facilitators’ perceptions

Hobbs, Stacey (2021) Influences on farmer decision-making behaviour considering a payment for ecosystem services scheme: farmers’ and scheme facilitators’ perceptions. Masters thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/CW71PE26

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Agricultural diffuse pollution from metaldehyde (the most common active ingredient used in slug pellets) is a major concern in the UK as its rivers have frequently recorded levels of the pesticide unsafe for potable consumption. Payments for ecosystem services (PES) has gained popularity as a mechanism to generate improved environmental behaviours from farmers by offering them an incentive to manage their land to provide specific environmental benefits. To improve water quality at the point of extraction, Thames Water has used the PES approach to tackle agricultural diffuse pollution from metaldehyde. While there is a wealth of knowledge in the theoretical and experimental fields of PES, few empirical studies have examined how PES schemes encourage and sustain improved behaviours. To address this gap, this study investigated the influences on farmer decision-making behaviour considering their participation in Thames Water’s PES scheme in four catchments. Data collection comprised semi-structured interviews with 22 farmers and 8 project partner advisors (scheme facilitators) to gain insight into their perceptions of Thames Water’s PES scheme concerning: the drivers and barriers for farmer participation; strategies used by the project partner advisors to support farmers’ participation and behaviour change; and the success and sustainability of the scheme in changing farmers’ behaviours and attitudes towards metaldehyde. The results concluded farmers’ motivations for scheme enrolment were mainly dominated by non-economic motivations, with the provision of information, environmental enhancement and moral obligation particularly influential. Project partner advisors emphasised the need for a holistic approach towards improving water quality through their provision of advice to farmers and, in particular, providing tailored advice to each farmer. Crucially, behavioural and attitudinal changes in farmers’ metaldehyde use were observed, with farmers improving their land management practices due to a better understanding of the environmental impacts of metaldehyde and more sustainable methods for slug management. In conclusion, this study identifies approaches that are successful for influencing and supporting farmer decision-making behaviour. This will help inform the development of existing and future PES schemes as mechanisms for encouraging farmers’ voluntary behaviour change. It will also assist those responsible for the facilitation of PES schemes to increase farmer engagement and generate advice that better resonates with farmers to achieve environmental goals.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Water contamination; Pesticides; Metaldehyde pollution; Thames Water, Payments for ecosystem services (PES); Farmer decision-making behaviour
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General) > S589.75 Agriculture and the environment
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2022 11:09
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2022 14:16

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