Exploring dairy farmers’ attitudes and perceptions towards water quality in Southland

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de Souza, Isabella Paiva
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Master of Applied Management
Southern Institute of Technology (SIT)
Liang, Christine
Masters Dissertation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Southland (N.Z.)
New Zealand
water quality
nutrient loss
dairy farmers
decision making
knowledge exchange
social networks
de Souza, I. P. (2021). Exploring dairy farmers’ attitudes and perceptions towards water quality in Southland. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Management). Southern Institute of Technology (SIT), New Zealand. https://hdl.handle.net/10652/5527
Water quality has been gaining attention in New Zealand, and dairy farming is in the spotlight as one of the contributors to water quality deterioration. This study provides insight into farmers’ attitudes and behaviour towards water quality and the influence of social factors on farmers’ decision-making. The Theory of Planned Behaviour and Social Capital Theory framed this study, and the combination of both theories contributed to exploring which social factors encourage farmers’ behavioural change and how they shape farmers’ attitudes. This qualitative study is based on an interpretive approach considering farmers’ thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Semistructured interviews with five dairy farmers from Southland were used to collect the data. Farmers’ behavioural change is shaped by a range of connected social factors, including values and beliefs, financial resources, information, and education. Also, social networks and the engagement with community groups influence farmers’ decision-making, besides improving communication, problem-solving and creating a collective responsibility between local farmers. Trust combined with social networks plays a key role in knowledge exchange and acceptance of advice, as farmers need to trust the source of information to accept and share it with other farmers. This study identified some research areas for future studies, including extending the study to other areas and agriculture sectors in New Zealand. Also, this study suggested exploring further the role of informational and financial incentives on farmers’ behavioural change, besides investigating the influence of culture on farmers’ attitudes and decision-making.
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