Centre for Environmental Management, CQUniversity
School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland
CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
The aim of this study was to identify factors affecting adoption of land management practices (LMPs) in cane farming that have water quality benefits in Great Barrier Reef (GBR) catchments. The project used a case study approach to explore the key factors that affect adoption of LMPs in two regions of the GBR catchment – Mackay and Bundaberg. A literature review identified factors that impact on the adoption of LMPs in cane farming, and these were examined in greater detail through discussions with 17 stakeholders and 116 cane farmers. Their responses were then analysed though descriptive statistics, fuzzy logic and a measure of consensus and agreement .
This study assessed the acceptance by cane farmers of three categories of land management practices in cane farming in GBR catchments, Queensland: (1) nutrient and herbicide management, (2) soil and erosion management, and (3) water and irrigation management. The study found that cane farmers are most interested in nutrient and herbicide management practices (with an average 70% consensus and agreement), compared to soil and erosion management, and water and irrigation management practices (with an average 50% to 60% consensus and agreement).
Within all three categories of land management, the following practices were considered the most desirable and relevant LMPs with water quality benefits, specifically at the paddock scale:
The study also examined the factors influencing adoption of LMPs that have water quality benefits and provided a summary of these factors. The survey results identified nine factors that appear to have the greatest influence farmers' decisions to adopt changed practices:
Half of these factors are economic factors and half of these are socio-cultural factors. This demonstrates how socio-cultural and economic factors significantly influence farmers in making decisions about the adoption of LMPs, and a sophisticated understanding of social, economic and cultural dynamics is critical for increasing adoption of LMPs in cane farming that have water quality benefits.
The study concluded that decisions about the adoption of LMPs with water quality benefits are equally dependent upon four categories of factors:
There are also linkages and barriers among the factors influencing the adoption of LMPs with water quality benefits. Further study of linear and non-linear linkages between social, political and institutional systems that influence the adoption of LMPs with water quality benefits is needed. An in-depth qualitative study on the effectiveness of support services is also necessary as support services are very important in determining and influencing LMP adoption decisions.