5th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Emmett Martin
Session Name Water Use in Agriculture
Author(s) Emmett Martin,  UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education (Presenting Author)
  Alexa Lamm,  UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education
  Laura Warner, UF Department of Agricultural Education and Communication
  Barriers and Motivators Associated with Adopting Water Conservation Technologies in Crop Production Operations
  Water conservation has become a very critical topic worldwide. In the United States, certain regions are facing drought due to changes in weather patterns, and high demands associated with increases in population. The field of agriculture has encountered criticism due to high water usage. Nursery and greenhouse crop production operations require significantly large amounts of water to maintain their products. Water conservation practices and technologies have been developed to assist with water savings in such operations. However, many growers are reluctant to implement technology due to cost, labor, and beliefs that horticulture is a manual field. Exploring perceived barriers and motivators related to adopting water conservation technologies is essential for researchers. Qualitative interviews were conducted with nursery and greenhouse operations nationwide. The findings were analyzed a priori using Rogers (2003) Theory of Diffusion five attributes of adoption an innovation which includes: (1) relative advantage, (2) compatibility, (3) complexity, (4) trialability, and (5) observability. The findings revealed that growers are more receptive to adopting water conservation practices and technology if they have the capital available, and it saves on manual labor. Growers were also motivated to adopt water conservation technologies if they had a chance to test them before fully implementing them at their operation. Barriers to adopting an innovation were associated with financial factors, incompatibility, and perception that horticulture and technology are not traditional. Based on these findings, researchers suggest creating outreach material for growers that stress the importance of adopting water conservation practices and technologies. This study will be followed with quantitative surveys to make statistical inference regarding barriers and motivators to adopting water conservation practices and technology in nursery and greenhouse operations.