Skip to main content
×
×
Home

In the weeds: distinguishing organic farmers who want information about ecological weed management from those who need it

  • Doug Bessette (a1), Sarah Zwickle (a2) and Robyn Wilson (a2)
Abstract

The benefits of farming organically in the USA are increasingly known; however, organic farmers also encounter considerable risks, especially from weeds. Without herbicides, organic farmers can rely only on crop rotations, mechanical cultivation, manual weeding, beneficial insects and other cultural practices, termed ecological weed management (EWM), to control weeds. Despite promising results and the many ways in which EWM can be employed, it remains poorly adopted by the organic community. Organic farmers resist research and recommendations from University scientists and Extension, instead preferring to rely on local family and friends and their own experience to guide decisions. Here we investigate factors that may lead organic farmers to recognize that they need additional information about EWM and to seek that information out. Using a national survey of organic farmers (n = 554) and a risk-information seeking and processing model, we show that farmers’ risk and benefit perceptions, worry, social norms encouraging seeking out information, and farmers’ own perceived knowledge gaps, particularly with respect to their most problematic weed, influence information-seeking behavior. Identifying characteristics that may distinguish those organic farmers who need and want additional information, we provide recommendations to Extension and University scientists about how best to communicate, build trust and provide decision support to the organic community with respect to EWM.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Author for correspondence: Doug Bessette, E-mail: bessett6@msu.edu
References
Hide All
Ajzen, I (1991) The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 50, 179211.
Amundson, R, Berhe, AA, Hopmans, JW, Olson, C, Sztein, AE and Sparks, DL (2015) Soil and human security in the 21st century. Science 348, 1261071.
Anderson, RL (2010) A rotation design to reduce weed density in organic farming. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 25, 189195.
Bastiaans, L, Paolini, R and Baumann, D (2008) Focus on ecological weed management: What is hindering adoption? Weed Research 48, 481491.
Bessette, DL, Arvai, J and Campbell-Arvai, V (2014) Decision support framework for developing regional energy strategies. Environmental Science & Technology 48, 14011408.
Bretagnolle, V and Gaba, S (2015) Weeds for bees? A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 35, 891909.
Browning, SR, Westneat, SC and Mcknight, RH (2008) Suicides among farmers in three southeastern states, 1990–1998. Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health 14, 461472.
Chaiken, S, Liberman, A and Eagly, AH (1989) Heuristic and systematic information processing within and beyond the persuasion context. In Uleman, J and J, Bargh's (eds). Unintended Thought. pp. 212252.
Cohen, J, Cohen, P, West, SG and Aiken, LS (2013) Applied Multiple Regression/Correlation Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.
Constance, DH and Choi, JY (2010) Overcoming the barriers to organic adoption in the United States: A look at pragmatic conventional producers in Texas. Sustainability 2, 163188.
Dedecker, JJ, Masiunas, JB, Davis, AS and Flint, CG (2014) Weed management practice selection among Midwest US organic growers. Weed Science 62, 520531.
De Ponti, T, Rijk, B and Van Ittersum, MK (2012) The crop yield gap between organic and conventional agriculture. Agricultural Systems 108, 19.
Doohan, D, Wilson, R, Canales, E and Parker, J (2010) Investigating the human dimension of weed management: New tools of the trade. Weed science 58, 503510.
Earle, TC and Cvetkovich, G (1995) Social Trust: Toward A Cosmopolitan Society. London: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Gabriel, D, Sait, SM, Kunin, WE and Benton, TG (2013) Food production vs. biodiversity: Comparing organic and conventional agriculture. Journal of Applied Ecology 50, 355364.
Gallandt, E and Molloy, T (2008) Exploiting weed management benefits of cover crops requires pre-emption of seed rain. Poster at: Cultivating the Future Based on Science: 2nd Conference of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research ISOFAR, Modena, Italy, June 18–20, 2008.
Gardner, GT and Stern, PC (1996). Environmental Problems and Human Behavior. Vancouver, BC: Allyn & Bacon.
Griffin, RJ, Dunwoody, S and Neuwirth, K (1999) Proposed model of the relationship of risk information seeking and processing to the development of preventive behaviors. Environmental Research 80, S230S245.
Griffin, RJ, Neuwirth, K, Dunwoody, S and Giese, J (2004) Information sufficiency and risk communication. Media Psychology 6, 2361.
Griffin, RJ, Yang, Z, Ter Huurne, E, Boerner, F, Ortiz, S and Dunwoody, S (2008) After the flood: Anger, attribution, and the seeking of information. Science Communication 29, 285315.
Hanson, J, Dismukes, R, Chambers, W, Greene, C and Kremen, A (2004) Risk and risk management in organic agriculture: Views of organic farmers. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 19, 218227.
Hatcher, P and Melander, B (2003) Combining physical, cultural and biological methods: Prospects for integrated non-chemical weed management strategies. Weed Research 43, 303322.
Henckel, L, Börger, L, Meiss, H, Gaba, S and Bretagnolle, V (2015) Organic fields sustain weed metacommunity dynamics in farmland landscapes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 282, 20150002.
Jabbour, R, Zwickle, S, Gallandt, ER, Mcphee, KE, Wilson, RS and Doohan, D (2014) Mental models of organic weed management: Comparison of New England US farmer and expert models. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 29, 319333.
Jackson, LE (1997). Ecology in Agriculture. San Diego: Academic Press.
Kahlor, L, Dunwoody, S, Griffin, RJ and Neuwirth, K (2006) Seeking and processing information about impersonal risk. Science Communication 28, 163194.
Kahlor, LA (2007) An augmented risk information seeking model: The case of global warming. Media Psychology 10, 414435.
Kasperson, RE, Golding, D and Tuler, S (1992) Social distrust as a factor in siting hazardous facilities and communicating risks. Journal of Social Issues 48, 161187.
Keeney, RL (1992) Value-focused Thinking. A Path to Creative Decision Making. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.
King, S and White, T (2017). 2017 Census of Agriculture Gets Underway. Washington, DC: USDA.
Kopittke, PM and Menzies, NW (2007) A review of the use of the basic cation saturation ratio and the ‘ideal’ soil. Soil Science Society of America Journal 71, 259265.
Letter, D, Seidel, R and Liebhardt, W (2003) The performance of organic and conventional cropping systems in an extreme climate year. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 18, 146154.
Liebman, M, Mohler, CL and Staver, CP (2001). Ecological Management of Agricultural Weeds. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Lyson, TA (2012) Civic Agriculture: Reconnecting Farm, Food, and Community. Medford, MA, USA: UPNE.
Macrae, RJ, Frick, B and Martin, RC (2007) Economic and social impacts of organic production systems. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 87, 10371044.
Marshall, E, Brown, V, Boatman, N, Lutman, P, Squire, G and Ward, L (2003) The role of weeds in supporting biological diversity within crop fields. Weed Research 43, 7789.
Mccann, E, Sullivan, S, Erickson, D and De Young, R (1997) Environmental awareness, economic orientation, and farming practices: A comparison of organic and conventional farmers. Environmental Management 21, 747758.
Misiewicz, T, Shade, J, Crowder, D, Delate, K, Sciligo, A and Silva, E (2017). Increasing Agricultural Sustainability Through Organic Farming: Outcomes From the 2016 Organic Confluences Summit. The Organic Center.
Mohler, CL and Johnson, SE (2009). Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual. Ithaca, NY: Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service (NRAES) Cooperative Extension.
Montgomery, DR (2007) Soil erosion and agricultural sustainability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104, 1326813272.
Moynihan, M (2011). Status of Organic Agriculture in Minnesota: A Report to the Minnesota Legislature. St Paul: Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
NIFA 2017. Organic Agriculture Program [Online]. https://nifa.usda.gov/program/organic-agriculture-program (Accessed).
Norman, D, Bloomquist, L, Janke, R, Freyenberger, S, Jost, J, Schurle, B and Kok, H (2000) The meaning of sustainable agriculture: Reflections of some Kansas practitioners. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 15, 129136.
Poortinga, W and Pidgeon, NF (2003) Exploring the dimensionality of trust in risk regulation. Risk Analysis 23, 961972.
Reganold, JP and Wachter, JM (2016) Organic agriculture in the twenty-first century. Nature Plants 2, 15221.
Rogers, EM (2010). Diffusion of Innovations. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Rosmann, M (2005) Sowing the seeds of hope: Providing regional behavioral health supports to the agricultural population. Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health 11, 431439.
Siegrist, M (2000) The influence of trust and perceptions of risks and benefits on the acceptance of gene technology. Risk Analysis 20, 195204.
Siegrist, M, Cvetkovich, G and Roth, C (2000) Salient value similarity, social trust, and risk/benefit perception. Risk Analysis 20, 353362.
Slovic, P (1987) Perception of risk. Science 236, 280285.
Slovic, P, Finucane, ML, Peters, E and Macgregor, DG (2004) Risk as analysis and risk as feelings: Some thoughts about affect, reason, risk, and rationality. Risk Analysis 24, 311322.
Stallones, L, Doenges, T, Dik, BJ and Valley, MA (2013) Occupation and suicide: Colorado, 2004–2006. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 56, 12901295.
Stofferahn, CW (2009) Personal, farm and value orientations in conversion to organic farming. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 33, 862884.
Sullivan, S, Mccann, E, De Young, R and Erickson, D (1996) Farmers’ attitudes about farming and the environment: A survey of conventional and organic farmers. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 9, 123143.
Tautges, NE, Goldberger, JR and Burke, IC (2016) A survey of weed management in organic small grains and forage systems in the Northwest US. Weed Science 64, 513522.
Tiesman, HM, Konda, S, Hartley, D, Menéndez, CC, Ridenour, M and Hendricks, S (2015) Suicide in US workplaces, 2003–2010: A comparison with non-workplace suicides. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 48, 674682.
USDA (2017a) Farm Computer Usage and Ownership [Online]. United States Department of Agriculture. Economics, Statistics and Market Information System. National Agricultural Statistics Service. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do?documentID=1062
USDA (2017b) Organic Integrity Database [Online]. United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Marketing Service. https://organic.ams.usda.gov/integrity/ (Accessed)
Walz, E (1999) Final Results of the Third Biennial National Organic Farmers’ Survey: Sustaining Organic Farms in a Changing Organic Marketplace. Santa Cruz, CA: Organic Farming Research Foundation.
Willer, H and Lernoud, J (2016) The World of Organic Agriculture, Statistics and Emerging Trends 2016. Bonn, Germany: FIBL, IFOAM First Edition Handbook. ISBN 978-3-03736-306-5.
Wynne, B (1980) Technology, risk and participation: On the social treatment of uncertainty. Society, Technology and Risk Assessment 1980, 173208.
Yang, ZJ, Aloe, AM and Feeley, TH (2014a) Risk information seeking and processing model: A meta-analysis. Journal of Communication 64, 2041.
Yang, ZJ, Rickard, LN, Harrison, TM and Seo, M (2014b) Applying the risk information seeking and processing model to examine support for climate change mitigation policy. Science Communication 36, 296324.
Zwickle, S, Wilson, R and Doohan, D (2014) Identifying the challenges of promoting ecological weed management (EWM) in organic agroecosystems through the lens of behavioral decision making. Agriculture and Human Values 31, 355370.
Zwickle, S, Wilson, R, Bessette, DL, Herms, C and Doohan, D (2016) Facilitating ecological weed management decisions by assessing risk-benefit tradeoffs. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 40, 635659.
Zwickle, SL (2011) Weeds and Organic Weed Management: Investigating Farmer Decisions with A Mental Models Approach. Columubs, OH, USA: The Ohio State University.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
  • ISSN: 1742-1705
  • EISSN: 1742-1713
  • URL: /core/journals/renewable-agriculture-and-food-systems
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 72
Total number of PDF views: 18 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 167 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 31st January 2018 - 16th July 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.