Assessing Conservation Adoption Decision Criteria Using the Analytic Hierarchy Process: Case Studies from Three Midwestern Watersheds
Land use changes from natural ecosystems to industrial agriculture have impacted water quality and wildlife populations in the Mississippi River basin. Government programs providing technical assistance and monetary incentives have not resulted in adequate adoption rates of conservation practices. While there has been a plethora of research examining the factors associated with conservation adoption, significantly less is understood about the relative importance of these factors. Using the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) with agricultural producers in three Midwestern watersheds, we assess the relative importance of environmental and production decision criteria when making decisions to adopt conservation practices. Although AHP provides insight into how decisions may be made at the watershed scale, this methodology also provides insight into how individuals make conservation decisions and may also provide a method for delivering tailored conservation advice and communications.