How do sociocultural factors shape rural landowner responses to the prospect of perennial bioenergy crops?

Weston M. Eaton, Morey Burnham, C. Clare Hinrichs, Theresa Selfa, Sheng Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Renewable energy transitions in the U.S. have included growing interest in promoting perennial bioenergy crop production within different rural landscapes. However, landowners’ receptivity to such land use and development in mixed-use landscapes is not well understood. Previous research has shown that economic motivations and market factors contribute to farmer decision-making about growing energy crops in working landscapes, while research on public responses to renewable energy technologies has found that sense of place and symbolic meanings regarding land, nature, and technologies are influential. The goal of this study is to integrate these strands of research to examine the influence of sociocultural factors on both landowners’ general support for local bioenergy crop production and their willingness to participate directly by growing dedicated energy crops in mixed-use landscapes. The study draws on a survey completed by 908 landowners and farmers in rural New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Seeing bioenergy as a broadly progressive technology significantly increased the likelihood of support for local bioenergy crop production, as did having a college degree and larger landholdings, while sense of place factors were not significant. Seeing bioenergy as a progressive technology also significantly increased the likelihood of being willing to grow bioenergy crops on one's own land, as did having a college degree, knowledge about switchgrass, having idle land, as well as concerns about bioenergy markets. This study demonstrates that in addition to other variables, sociocultural factors influence both support for local bioenergy crop production and landowner willingness to grow bioenergy crops on their own land.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-204
Number of pages10
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Volume175
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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