Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: Agriculture (Page 2 of 29)

July 2023 news

Two women in plaid shirts

Brooke with Carlene Schneider, spruiking the Advanced Grazing Systems programme at farming events in Saskatchewan.

Lots going on in and out of the lab, but not a lot of time to talk about it. Many folks are writing (final thesis/dissertation chapters and papers, comps and dissertation proposals), some are knee deep in data, and a few are in the field gathering new data. Brooke is notably literally in the field, attending farm events in Saskatchewan and Alberta with our key collaborators at the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association and Farmers for Climate Solutions to spruik the Advanced Grazing Systems program and our survey research related to it. For my part, I’ve been catching up on reading a lot of the work being produced as described above.

This coming week I am in the final stages with my colleagues and co-editors Glad Thondhlana (Rhodes) and Doug Jackson-Smith (Ohio State) of submitting to the University Press of Colorado the next 10-year review of the field of natural resource social science. These final stages are very finnicky in a volume with 15 chapters and over 50 authors, but we’re very excited how it has all turned out.

Three people behind a conference table and one on the screen behind.

My panel at Managed Retreat 2023 on Ecosystems and Managed Retreat

Back in June I didn’t get around to blogging about the biennial Managed Retreat Conference  at Columbia University in NYC that I attended after IASNR. I presented on the social science synthesis for ResNet’s Landscape 1 (Bay of Fundy Dykelands). It was a great source of state-of-the art thinking, with highlights including Linda Shi, Jamie Vanucchi and Shanasia Sylman (all Cornell), Carolien Kraan (University of Miami), Lieke Brackel (Delft), John Nelson (RISD), Kensuke Otsuyama (Tokyo), AR Siders (Delaware) and Shaieree Cottar (Waterloo).

ResNet AGM 2023

The L1 team at Jouvence for AGM 2023 (Emily, Lara, Sam, Maka, Evan, Isabel, me, Kiirsti and Brittney)

Last week we had a productive AGM for NSERC ResNet up near Montreal. Around 70 academics, students, postdocs and partners joined for some very full days of reflection, synthesis and planning. My highlight was the ecosystem service assessment we were tasked for the Hundred Aker Wood (see below), Winnie the Pooh’s world from A. A. Milne, during which we identified Pooh’s body mass index as a key indicator for honey production (a clear provisioning service). While it was a wet few days, it didn’t dampen the spirits of the indomitable HQP (highly qualified personnel), who particularly enjoyed the firepit. If you could see the fire better, you’d see they were writing words on the logs for things they’d like to see gone. I saw white supremacy and racism go in. Thanks to PI Elena Bennett and everyone at the Central team for organizing and seeing to all our needs so thoughtfully and patiently.

Isabel takes seriously our task of ecosystem service assessment for Winnie the Pooh’s world.

The firepit, surrounded by students and postdocs (mostly), with L1 folks playing firemaster.

New research note on farmer ‘fenceline behaviour’

Table 1 in our Agriculture and Human Values research note, showing the statements used in our novel ‘fenceline behaviour’ question set.

At long last, a research note is out today in Agriculture and Human Values that had its genesis at many different farmer kitchen tables during past qualitative field work, going as far back as my Australian postdoc in 2008. I repeatedly heard things that suggested that direct neighbours had an impact on farm management and adoption behaviour, and not necessarily in the generally positive way suggested by diffusion of innovation theory.  In 2020 when I was hiring Kynetec to do a survey of beef producers in Canada, I turned those comments into a novel question set about ‘fenceline behaviour’, to see how those ideas looked at a population level and if there seemed to be any associations with adoption behaviour. In our new research note, Are fencelines sites of engagement or avoidance in farmer adoption of alternative practices? we identified two different clusters of farmers based on answers to those 8 statements–fenceline engagers and fenceline avoiders–and also found that farmers using adaptive multi-paddock grazing were three times more likely to be engagers. This suggests that feelings of vulnerability at the fenceline can discourage farmers who are avoiders from experimentation with new farm management approaches.  Some statements were more useful than others at differentiating between these two types. Most farmers agreed mildly, on average, that fencelines provide a good site for diagnosis: comparing the impacts of their practices relative to their neighbours. But there was a wide range of responses to, “It is ‘live and let live’ with my farming neighbours: they don’t comment on my practices and I don’t comment on theirs”, which is a rural expression of the ‘civil inattention’ concept first described by Erving Goffman in cities. We hope that others will build on this work, for instance to explore trust and norms in more detail with farm neighbours, micro-scale adoption communication and causality.

New culturomics paper mapping CES using Instagram

Figure 2 process flowchart of the new Zhao et al. paper in Marine Policy

Another nice lab output this week in Marine Policy led by Qiqi Zhao, a China Scholarship Council visiting PhD student in my lab last year, including a bunch of other lab-affiliated students as co-authors: Modelling cultural ecosystem services in agricultural dykelands and tidal wetlands to inform coastal infrastructure decisions: a social media data approach. It is a bit of a companion piece to the Chen et al (2020) piece in Ocean and Coastal Management, as it uses the same Instagram dataset collected for every dykeland area in Nova Scotia back in 2018, but in a very different way. Chen et al. took a very qualitative ‘small data’ approach to the dataset, analyzing the photographs (and accounts) only of posts that included the words dyke*/dike*/wetland/marsh in the captions. Zhao et al. used a ‘big data’ text mining approach, extracting and associating bi-grams (two-word strings) from geolocated post captions to particular cultural ecosystem services (CES), modelling those CES using SolVES and comparing (as with Chen et al.) dykeland and wetland services. Whereas Chen et al. only found direct mentions of freshwater marshes (specifically Miner’s Marsh), in Zhao et al. we leveraged the coordinates to locate those geolocated to tidal wetland sites.  This will help us better understand the tradeoffs associated with climate change-driven adaptations of the dykeland system in the Bay of Fundy, the focus of NSERC ResNet Landscape 1.

New paper on salience mapping of energy infrastructure

Figure 1 in Mohammadi et al (2023), showing the novel sequence of work in PhotoShop, Matlab and GIS to understand how energy infrastructure affects a view.

Really nice to see a paper come out this week in Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal from Mehrnoosh Mohammadi’s MES thesis on renewable energy infrastructure in amenity (specifically vineyard) landscapes. This is the kind of thing that happens when a landscape architect joins your lab. This work involved a creative sequence of PhotoShop (to remove energy infrastructure seen in Instagram images taken at vineyards), Matlab (to calculate visual saliency), and ArcGIS analysis to understand the change in salience wrought by the removal. Cool stuff! This started out as a research note at submission, but got upgraded by the editor: A saliency mapping approach to understanding the visual impact of wind and solar infrastructure in amenity landscapes. Thanks to PhD student Yan Chen and former postdoc H. M. Tuihedur Rahman for helping out on this work.

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