Houser, M., S. T. Marquart-Pyatt, R. C. Denny, A. Reimer, and D. Stuart. 2019. Farmers, information, and nutrient management in the US Midwest. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 74:269-280.
In an age of increasingly available options, which sources of information about nutrient management do farmers use to guide their management decisions and why? Recent work reveals emerging shifts in how farmers access information about technology and practices related to their operation. In this study, we use survey data gathered in 2014 in the US Corn Belt to examine the information sources that farmers use, the likely influence those sources will have on their nitrogen (N) fertilizer decisions, and whether some information sources are held in higher regard than others. We explore the factors shaping whether farmers use multiple information sources as well as their consultation of particular ones. Our empirical analysis reveals that most farmers in our sample use multiple information sources and that the number of sources used varies by having attended college and farm size. Just over three sources are used on average among the full sample, with those reporting having some college using more than three and large operators using four sources. Farmers’ perception of these sources differs in the degree to which they perceive the importance of recommendations to influence management practice decisions. Among our sample, fertilizer dealers, crop consultants, seed suppliers, and university extension are greatly valued and influential sources. Finally, education and years in farming shape the selection of multiple information sources or the intensity of information gathering, and along with these factors, attitudes and values influence the importance farmers place on various sources for N recommendations.
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