State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2007IN220B
Title: Assessing BMP Maintenance: Creating a Remote Sensing Scale and Measuring the Influence of Social Factors
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2007
End Date: 2/28/2008
Congressional District: Entire State
Focus Categories: Agriculture, Conservation, Management and Planning
Keywords: BMP Maintenance, Remote Sensing Evalution, Nonpoint Source Pollution, Enfironmental Awareness, Environmental Attidues, Individual Capacity, Landowner
Principal Investigators: Prokopy, Linda; Baumgart-Getz, Adam G.
Federal Funds: $ 19,906
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 47,122
Abstract: Nonpoint Source (NPS) pollution is widely regarded as the largest threat to the nation's water quality, and Best Management Practices (BMPs) are generally seen as the most effective tool for battling NPS pollution. Many cost-share programs require landowners to maintain the BMP for a specified time period. Some individuals work to preserve these BMPs long after this obligation has ended, while others do not perform satisfactory upkeep for the duration of the cost-share contract. Environmental conditions and economic variables are important considerations for BMP maintenance, but these factors do not satisfactorily explain long-term BMP care.

In cooperation with Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD), we are developing a tool to evaluate the condition of agricultural BMPs across Indiana. Currently, no practical tools exist to complete this task efficiently on a large scale. Working with IDEM's office of NPS and TMDL, we have identified 340 BMPs visible with aerial photography. Developing a method for describing BMP maintenance using remote sensing requires coordinating visual interpretation of the BMPs in the aerial photographs with established field evaluation techniques. We will use this process to create a scale which can categorize a BMP from absent to excellent condition.

A large number of studies have examined what motivates landowners to adopt BMPs. However, little work has been done to explain why some farmers maintain BMPs while others do not. After assessing BMP maintenance with the scale described above, we will then survey farmers to understand the role of environmental awareness and attitudes, capacity and farm characteristics in explaining differences in maintenance. This survey work will build upon a regional project that is developing a set of surveys to measure individuals' environmental awareness and attitudes. The results of this study can be used to improve landowner outreach, with the goal of long-term BMP maintenance for the improvement of Indiana?s surface water quality.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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