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Towards cleaner water: Understanding riparian forest buffer adoption in Nebraska

Peter Daniel Skelton, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Pesticide and nutrient runoff from agricultural fields is a socio-environmental problem in the Midwest. Riparian forest buffers are proven to perform several important ecosystem functions that improve local and regional water quality problems by minimizing the negative effects of agricultural runoff. However, adoption rates of riparian forest buffers are low in Nebraska. ^ This project compared the characteristics of a sample of adopters and nonadopters of riparian forest buffers in two southeastern Nebraska watersheds, and a sample of adopters who participated in the Nebraska forest buffer program. Data were collected using survey methods (n = 594), follow-up phone interviews with adopters (n = 12), and on-site field visits (n = 6). Data were gathered on willingness to use riparian forest buffers, factors affecting their use, and adopter decision-making. ^ Several key respondent characteristics were determined that could be used to identify potential adopters. Producers who were less specialized, farmed less than 400 hectares, lived near the site where a RFB could be established, and were willing to participate in government programs were more likely to adopt RFBs. Similarly, nonproducers who were younger, lived near the site where a RFB could be established, and did not have negative perceptions about government payment programs were more likely to adopt RFBs. ^ There were several important findings from this study. First, adopters of riparian forest buffers were equally as likely to be a producer as a nonproducer. Second, almost half of the producers (43.5%) and nonproducers (44.7%) surveyed were willing to participate in a government payment program to establish a RFB. Third, key predictors of adoption included: positive attitudes toward government payment programs to install RFBs; perceptions that water quality was affected by farming to the edge of a stream; and, perceptions that RFBs impacted water quality and soil erosion positively. ^

Subject Area

Environmental Sciences|Engineering, Environmental

Recommended Citation

Skelton, Peter Daniel, "Towards cleaner water: Understanding riparian forest buffer adoption in Nebraska" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3159562.