Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: landholder survey (page 2 of 2)

Marginal land survey update

An eloquent note by a Nova Scotia farmer, accompanying his completed Marginal Land survey.

An eloquent note by a Nova Scotia farmer, accompanying his completed Marginal Land survey.

We have an approximately 25% response rate so far from our Marginal Land survey of Nova Scotia farmers, after two postcards and one survey mailout. We are hoping that this week’s survey mailout will get us up to our 33% response target. It is a difficult time of year to be surveying farmers, a necessity brought on by our funding horizon, so we’ve been secretly hoping for rain so that farmers haven’t got ‘better things to do’. We are thrilled with the rich data so far; some farmers even insert additional notes such as the one above, to help us understand their perspective. One farmer even sent a note apologizing that “the dog ate my survey”, to explain the condition in which it arrived back with us.

‘Nuisance nature’ paper out

I wanted to use Wile E. Coyote and Bambi, but the publisher wouldn't let me.

I wanted to use Wile E. Coyote and Bambi, but the publisher wouldn’t let me.

In 2014, we surveyed farmers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia , asking which animal species they considered a nuisance. It was a novel survey design, as it did not prompt with species names but rather elicited them from respondents. We then asked farmers to tell us about their monetary loss from each listed species, the acceptability of that loss, how they cope with it, any cultural benefits it provides, and – finally – whether they’d rather have the species or not. Statistical analysis revealed that tolerance was unrelated to perceived monetary losses. Rather, tolerance seemed linked to the type of nuisance they represented to the farmer: threat or damage. Coyote and deer were useful archetypes of each kind, and of the different mental algebra that farmers undertake: deer were very expensive but also enjoyed, and thus the loss was seen as a reasonable trade-off and the species tolerated. By contrast, coyote were not expensive, but were also not enjoyed and thus not tolerated. More work is needed to understand the nature of non-monetary costs, such as trauma, as part of the inversion. The paper is available this week open access at Diversity, part of a special issue on Managing Biodiversity in Agricultural Landscapes, led by lab alumni Kate Goodale.

Many hands make light work

Wendy, Simon and Joy stuffing envelopes with surveys in the Hayes Room.

Wendy, Simon and Joy stuffing envelopes with surveys in the Hayes Room.

Thanks to Wendy and Joy for pitching in to fold 1850 12-page Marginal Land Management surveys this week, number them so we can keep track of responses, and stuff them into envelopes. A crucial task, but not an entertaining one, although they made it look fun. The postcard notice has gone out to the thousand Nova Scotia farmers selected for the study, and we’ll send out this first round of surveys next week. I never thought I’d say this, after the wet summer we’ve had, but I hope it stays wet so the farmers have little better to do than respond!

Marginal survey testing today

Logos for Marginal Land Management project partners

Logos for Marginal Land Management project partners

Exciting day today. Simon Greenland-Smith has headed to Truro to test our new  Marginal Land Management survey with farmers and farm extension workers at the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. This survey is a great partnership (see logos), which will reduce the number of surveys Nova Scotia farmers receive this year with a multi-purpose design, while getting a better response rate through multiple reminders. Trialing surveys is critical to ensure a survey is well-designed for the audience.

First, the survey is taken in ‘exam conditions’, except it is not the participants being tested, but rather the survey itself. This allows us to estimate how long it will take farmers at home, and shorten it if necessary. Then a free lunch, to fuel thinking for the focus group discussion. This is where we discuss the design of the survey instrument, from minor issues like wording to bigger issues like the relevance of the various topics to the target audience. I look forward to hearing how it went and reflecting on that feedback.

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