Rapid and profound changes in agricultural land use, such as expanded organic farming and the decline of agrobiodiversity production, are leading to increased interest in spatial clustering within diverse agricultural landscapes where neighboring farmers grow the same crops, using the same or similar technological approaches, management techniques, and environment- and resource-related practices. This interdisciplinary research project will examine the dynamics of human-social interactions in the recent changes that involve agriculture, environmental factors and impacts, and economic development by focusing on empirical case studies of organic dairy farming in the Upper Midwest of the U.S. and high-agrobiodiversity maize agriculture in central Bolivia. These dynamics will be examined using the economic and geographical perspective of spatial externalities. Analysis will be centered on farmer-farmer interactions (neighboring and networked) and farmer-institution interactions. The primary research methodologies will be econometrics, microeconomic modeling, spatial statistics, remote sensing, survey analysis, institutional and ethnographic interviews, and analyses of land-use and land-cover change. The major hypotheses on which the investigators will focus is that decentralized farmer decisions to convert to organic methods (Upper Midwest) and to switch from high-agrobiodiversity maize to alfalfa (Bolivia) will tend to create and reinforce land use clustering. The microeconomic foundation for the clustering hypothesis is that both positive and negative spatial externalities affect the magnitude and spatial pattern of agricultural landscape change. This research will develop an original research-and-education approach toward spatial externalities that will offer new and important contributions in the following areas: (1) a microeconomic model of farmer returns under spatial externalities in land use, (2) an econometric analysis of land-use change with strategies to identify the presence and importance of spatial externalities, (3) a method for integrating qualitative research and structured survey data to sharpen the estimates of the direction and magnitude of spatial externalities, and (4) a comparative analysis of land user interactions and their effects on organic dairy farming and agrobiodiversity farming outcomes.
The project will enhance fundamental knowledge about the complex ways that farmers interact with each other and with institutions to pursue socially and environmentally desirable goals. The social significance and value of this research is based on the design and development of management policies that require understanding the basic human-social dynamics of spatial interactions in farming systems. Changes in agricultural land use, such as expanded organic farming and the decline of agrobiodiversity production, are leading to heightened interest in spatial clustering within diverse agricultural landscapes where neighboring farmers grow the same crops, using the same or similar technological approaches, management techniques, and environment- and resource-related practices. National, state, and local government agencies and international development, environment, and conservation organizations are all interested in agricultural management policies for both environmental and development purposes. The overall design of this project entails an integrated research-and-education approach with an emphasis on education. Project results will be used to design policies to enhance environmental and economic development outcomes. An award resulting from the FY 2007 NSF-wide competition on Human and Social Dynamics (HSD) supports this project. All NSF directorates and offices are involved in the coordinated management of the HSD competition and the portfolio of HSD awards.
|Effective start/end date||6/15/08 → 11/30/09|
- National Science Foundation: $713,839.00