5th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Joshua Epstein
Session Name Poster Session - Policy & Behavior Change
Poster Number 22
Author(s) Joshua Epstein,  University of Florida, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation (Presenting Author)
  Alexa Lamm,  University of Florida, Department of Agricultural Education and Communication
  Lisa Lundy, University of Florida, Department of Agricultural Education and Communication
  Agricultural Water Use in Florida: Applying a Visual Semiotics-Framing Approach to Understand Perceptions
  Members of the general public and state decision-makers often perceive information regarding water use in agriculture differently. This is an issue in Florida where water quantity is a concern, and the distribution of accurate knowledge will be necessary to assist in effective conservation efforts. This study was conducted to gain insight into Florida resident and state decision maker perceptions of water use associated with specific agricultural-related operations. An online public opinion survey was sent to Florida residents and Florida decision makers and, after removing responses for missing data, a total of 525 residents and 169 decision makers’ responses were analyzed. Although the survey contained questions pertaining to many facets of water quality and quantity, only the section on perceived water use pertaining to specific agricultural operations was utilized in this analysis. Applying a visual semiotics-individual framing study design, participants were asked to state whether they would associate a specific agricultural operation, based on an image of it, with high, moderate, or low water usage. Differences between resident and decision maker responses were compared using an independent t-test, and significant differences were evident between means for citrus grove, hay field, plant nursery, horse farm, cattle pasture, home landscape, tree farm, and public use perceptions. Understanding where these differences exist will assist in the communication of accurate information between decision makers, the agricultural industry, and Florida citizens. In a subsequent analysis, perceptions will be compared with actual water-use data to target misconceptions and assist in implementing effective water conservation initiatives.