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Utilising a farmer typology to understand farmer behaviour towards water quality management: Nitrate Vulnerable Zones in Scotland


  • A. P. Barnes
  • J. Willock
  • L. Toma
  • C. Hall


Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) are employed as compulsory instruments to meet standards on EU water quality. Farmers operating in NVZs face a number of restrictions on agricultural activity and a greater requirement for record keeping in relation to timing and quantities of nitrogen inputs used. This paper presents results of a survey into the attitudes and values of farmers within the designated Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) in Scotland. A typology based on perceptions towards water quality management was developed using factor and cluster analysis techniques. Three types were identified as 'resistors', 'apathists' and 'multifunctionalists'. The 'resistors' and the 'multifunctionalists' had similar approaches to land use management, but then diverged in terms of their perceptions towards the environment, water management and the NVZ regulations in particular. The apathists were indifferent towards the aims of the regulation and to water quality management in general. This was also evidenced by their lack of uptake of voluntary measures for improving water quality. The lack of engagement from the 'apathists', which represent around a third of the responses to the survey, is particularly problematic for policy makers. There is a need for greater targeting of information to this farmer type emphasising favourable perceptions which encourage water quality management behaviours.

Suggested Citation

  • A. P. Barnes & J. Willock & L. Toma & C. Hall, 2011. "Utilising a farmer typology to understand farmer behaviour towards water quality management: Nitrate Vulnerable Zones in Scotland," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 54(4), pages 477-494.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jenpmg:v:54:y:2011:i:4:p:477-494
    DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2010.515880

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    1. repec:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:55-63 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Emtage, Nicholas & Herbohn, John, 2012. "Assessing rural landholders diversity in the Wet Tropics region of Queensland, Australia in relation to natural resource management programs: A market segmentation approach," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 107-118.
    3. Buckley, Cathal, 2012. "Implementation of the EU Nitrates Directive in the Republic of Ireland — A view from the farm," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 29-36.
    4. Sulemana, Iddisah & James, Harvey S., 2014. "Farmer identity, ethical attitudes and environmental practices," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 49-61.
    5. Zabala, Aiora & Pascual, Unai & García-Barrios, Luis, 2017. "Payments for Pioneers? Revisiting the Role of External Rewards for Sustainable Innovation under Heterogeneous Motivations," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 234-245.
    6. Gachango, Florence Gathoni & Andersen, Laura Mørch & Pedersen, Søren Marcus, 2015. "Adoption of voluntary water-pollution reduction technologies and water quality perception among Danish farmers," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 235-244.


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