Stuart, D. L., B. Basso, S. T. Marquart-Pyatt, A. P. Reimer, G. P. Robertson, and J. Zhao. 2015. The need for a coupled human and natural systems understanding of agricultural nitrogen loss. BioScience 65:571-578.
Reactive nitrogen loss from agricultural fertilizer use remains a crucial environmental problem in the United States, contributing to ecosystem degradation and global climate change. This intractable problem requires a coupled human and natural systems approach that combines biophysical, sociological, and economic knowledge into an integrative analysis. Much is known about the biogeochemistry of nitrogen and agricultural nitrogen loss; however, much is not known about how soil variability and climate change will affect farmer decisionmaking. Although it is widely understood that personal values and beliefs, social norms, economics, and policies influence farmer decisionmaking, very little is known about decisionmaking specific to fertilizer management. In addition, little is known about the socioeconomic influences on decisionmaking across scales and how ecological change is perceived and responded to. Combining sociological, economic, and biophysical knowledge can provide key insights regarding how these factors interact and can support more effective strategies to address this persistent problem.
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