Masters Plan A Proposal Defense - Alaina Nunn - May 13

Date: May 13, 2016
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Location: Natural Resources RM 320A

Understanding the Way Farmers Respond to Water Quality Data in Response to Managing Non-point Source Pollution Effecting Lake Erie

Masters Plan A Proposal Defense

By

 Alaina Nunn

Friday, May 13, 2016

10:30 a.m.

Room 320 A, Natural Resources Building

Abstract

In the past few years we have seen some of Lake Erie’s worst algal blooms, with the largest one being in 2015. Not only has this algae-driven eutrophication deteriorated the lakes biological health, but it has damaged the fishing and tourism industry, while also leaving thousands in Ohio without water for three days last year due to the lakes toxicity. In order to address these issues a pay-for-performance (PFP) program is being pilot tested in the River Raisin watershed where approximately 5,000 farms feed algae thriving nutrients to Lake Erie’s shores. Pay-for-performance has been seen as a cost-effective way for managing non-point source pollution due to its ability to detect impaired sections within a watershed, as well as predicting nutrient loading coming from farms via the Soil Water and Assessment Tool (SWAT). This is a computer simulated system, which removes the cost of doing water quality testing at the field level. The purpose of this program is to enroll farmers within those impaired sections of the watershed, help them implement conservation practices on their farms, and then pay them based on the amount of nutrients they kept out of nearby water sources via calculations made by SWAT. However, PFP is a voluntary program, meaning farmers are not legally obligated to participate in conservation efforts. With this being said, it is absolutely critical that we gain a better understanding of how the data which is presented to farmers changes their perspectives on the environment, and whether or not it is useful to them when making farm business decisions. Therefore, this project will focus on how farmers respond to theoretical data which comes from a computer simulated system, such as SWAT, versus real-time water quality data coming from their farms directly.

Committee Members