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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Agriculture

First Advisor

Maria A. Boerngen


The hypoxia zone in the Gulf of Mexico continues to grow each year, this hypoxic “dead zone” is caused from excess nutrients in the Mississippi River. These excess nutrients are coming from runoff from agricultural land in the Mississippi River Valley. The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (Illinois NLRS) (Illinois EPA, 2015) is challenging farmers to voluntarily make production changes to limit the amount of nutrients they lose from their fields through runoff. The Illinois NLRS recommends Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce nutrient loss, including cover crops, different application timing, bioreactors, wetlands, drainage water management (DWM), and buffers. However, the adoption of new or unfamiliar farming practices such as these BMPs is inherently risky for farmers. With the help of nutrient loss experts at the Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA), the membership of the ICGA was surveyed. This survey helps to gain a more detailed understanding of how farmers view and are responding to concerns about nutrient loss, and their willingness to voluntarily comply with nutrient loss reduction goals. The survey was designed using the Internet, Phone, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method handbook (Dillman, Smyth, and Christian, 2014). Questions addressed farmers’ awareness of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (Illinois NLRS) and concern for nutrient loss issues, implementation of BMPs, and demographic characteristics. There was a total of 762 completed surveys for a 19.9% response rate. Nearly 80% of respondents indicated that they have made changes to their operations due to nutrient loss concerns. The majority (63.7%) of respondents indicated that they do not use cover crops in their operation. On the other hand, the majority (50.4%) indicated that they do use edge-of-field practices such as bioreactors end-of-tile wetlands, and buffer strips. This study found that timing needed to establish and terminate cover crops was an obstacle to adoption and that there is need for more information about edge-of-field practices. A significant interaction was found (p<.05) between the region in which a respondent operates (northern, central, or southern Illinois) and the use of cover crops. Adoption rates for BMPs did not appear to be affected by age, education, or land tenure.


Imported from ProQuest Hoselton_ilstu_0092N_11383.pdf


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