Agricultural intensification, coupled with highly individualistic approaches to farmland management, has resulted in persistent water quality problems. Across the US, UK, and EU, policymakers have generally sought to remedy this situation through reactionary policies that incentivize and/or coerce farmers to change their behavior. Taken as a whole, however, these efforts are challenged by insufficient incentive structures, the diffuse nature of agricultural runoff, and the effects of legacy nutrient sources in the landscape. In order to develop a more collaborative and holistic approach to water quality management, we propose to gather data that will allow us to do an assessment strategy (Functional Land Management, FLM) that evaluates how differing land use and soil function optimization scenarios might achieve different sets of water quality goals.
This seed grant supports quantitative and ethnographic data collection, a pilot FLM analysis, and an international workshop bringing together a multi-institutional US/EU team that is competitively positioned for future grant solicitations. Our workshop at Wageningen University will evaluate how selected watersheds in the U.S. and Northern Ireland would see water quality change if each respective nation’s resource policies were managed according to alternate policy frameworks. We will also develop a future sociological network analysis of watershed citizens to help guide our public dissemination strategies.