Farmer uptake of agricultural land drainage benefits
Grant aid for land drainage improvements by Regional Water Authorities has been an important feature of agricultural support in Britain. The paper reports a study undertaken to evaluate and explain the nature and rate of farmer uptake of benefits on sixteen publicly financed projects involving flood alleviation and improved arterial draining in central England. A total of 177 farmers, 880 blocks of land, and 5500 hectares were surveyed, with data collected on the changes over time in drainage status, land use, and farming system and performance attributable to the improvement schemes. Physical data were converted into standardised enterprise and farm budgets. Particular attention was given to assessing grassland productivity. Benefits were perceived on 58% of the areas. The highest value of benefit uptake was associated with land-use change, field drainage installation, increased nitrogen use on grass, and changes in grass management. Early uptake was associated with land-use change and field drainage. Influencing factors related to a combination of field, farm, and farmer variables. The best performing schemes contained farmer drainage organisations. An S-shaped aggregate uptake curve was derived which, together with the formulation of 'benefit scenarios', could be used to help predict uptake on future schemes.
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