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Thesis Defense- Morgan Register

Understanding conservation specialists’ role in the adoption of precision agriculture in Nebraska

Date: Time: 9:00 am
Hardin Hall Room: 901
Additional Info: HARH
Contact: Andy Little,
The Delphi Method is used throughout a wide range of scientific disciplines for collecting copious amounts of qualitative data about topics of interest. However, the structure and process can be vague and variable. Within 81 peer-reviewed scientific journals, we identified 115 publications addressing the use of the Delphi Method in the fields of natural resources, fisheries, wildlife, and conservation. Our research showed that the Delphi method can successfully provide insight into a wide range of natural resources topics when reported and explained in the methodological structure. Specifically, this project used the example of the adoption of precision agriculture for conservation purposes, to display the Delphi methods abilities to address prominent questions and provide feedback that will help guide researchers to the best next steps in research and management decisions. Our research meets the demonstration of a complex issue by the need for strategic development of agricultural lands to ensure we can feed a growing world, while simultaneously reducing impacts on our natural resources such as water pollution from runoff, soil degradation, and habitat fragmentation.
To address these growing concerns, researchers are looking for ways to optimize both agricultural production and natural resource conservation. Therefore, precision conservation was developed to ensure sustainable ecosystems for future generations. Precision conservation leverages various precision agricultural tools like yield monitor data, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). to identify areas in fields that can be diversified to optimize financial return on investment while benefiting conservation. The role conservation specialists play and their influence on the implementation and adoption of emerging precision agricultural practices remains in question. To ensure conservation specialists can clearly articulate how precision conservation can help agricultural producers feed a growing world, while simultaneously reducing impacts on our natural resources, we convened a panel of 20 conservation specialists to examine the current diverse perspectives on the progression and integration of precision agriculture in conservation management prescriptions. We used the E-Delphi method to gather data through a series of three surveys to test the hypothesis that the use of precision agriculture is becoming increasingly prevalent in the field of conservation. Our results support the hypotheses, suggesting that conservation specialists are, in fact, using precision agriculture practices in their conservation positions, but with noticeable variance in the confinements of which practices were utilized. Furthermore, the results highlight the need to provide a united message when delivering precision agriculture across varying agency and organizational platforms.

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This event originated in School of Natural Resources.