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Agricultural nonpoint source pollution has been identified as a major cause of water quality impairments. Utilizing survey data from the Northern Great Plains, this paper provides a better understanding of farmers’ perceptions on water quality issues in their local areas. Excessive algal bloom and aquatic plants were among producers’ top water quality concerns in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Fertilizers/pesticides were perceived as either not a problem (28.7%) or a slight problem (43.7%) when it comes to the water pollution sources. While only 17.2% of the respondents indicated agreement upon paying taxes to help protect the local water quality, 43.5% agreed to implement conservation practices (CPs) at some cost, and 70.1% agreed to implement CPs at no direct cost to farmers to improve water quality. This paper examined the factors associated with the adoption of cover crops and buffer strips. We found that producers’ adoption decisions of cover crops largely hinged on farm characteristics and management variables, such as land ownership, farm size, livestock ownership, and adoption status of other farm management practices, while water quality information and producer perceptions affected the adoption decisions of both cover crops and buffer strips. To further promote CP adoption and reduce water pollution, our results highlighted the importance of both monetary incentives and outreach efforts that disseminate information on water pollution status and pollution sources, as well as technical support on CPs suitable for the farm.

Publication Title

Journal of Soil and Water Conservation

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Soil and Water Conservation Society


This is the peer-reviewed manuscript (post-print) as accepted for publication.

T. Wang, Y. Fan, Z. Xu, S. Kumar, B. Kasu. (2021) Journal of Soil and Water Conservation,uly 2021, 00185; DOI: