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Understanding and Influencing Farmer Behaviour Change

Research Funding Body



Blackstock, B., Brown, K., Burton, R., Dilley, R., Slee, B., Dywer, J., Ingram, J., Mills, J and Taylor, J

Project Objectives

This paper presents a review of current understanding of farmers' behaviours in the context of water management protection, specifically examining how behaviour can be influenced by advice and persuasion.

Why relevant to improve implementation and uptake of water quality measures

This paper takes the position that the farmer is an important decision maker to influence when managing agricultural diffuse pollution to the water environment. Understanding the reasons for their decisions and behaviour is therefore critical to an integrated approach to mitigating agriculture's impact on water quality.


Literature review.

Key Results

  • The main findings of the paper are that whether farmers become involved in catchment partnerships or respond as individuals to printed or verbal advice, they are interacting with a range of actors and multiple sources of information, often with advisors acting as mediators. Therefore, no single approach or strategy for influencing farmers' behaviour to manage diffuse pollution in the context of climate change is likely to be sufficient.
  • Attempts to influence farmer behaviour need to take account of good practise in developing and communicating consistent and salient messages that the farmer feels able and willing to respond to.
  • Behaviour change is influenced by individual and group identities within differentiated farming cultures. Therefore, understanding and influencing behaviour is a complex and multi-faceted issue.



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Further Information

Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.