Management decisions underpinning availability of ecosystem services and the organisms that provide them in agroecosystems, such as pollinators and pollination services, have emerged as a foremost consideration for both conservation and crop production goals. There is growing evidence that innovative management practices can support diverse pollinators and increase crop pollination. However, there is also considerable debate regarding factors that support adoption of these innovative practices. This study investigated pollination management practices and related knowledge systems in a major crop producing region of southwest Michigan in the United States, where 367 growers were surveyed to evaluate adoption of three innovative practices that are at various stages of adoption. The goals of this quantitative, social survey were to investigate grower experience with concerns and benefits associated with each practice, as well as the influence of grower networks, which are comprised of contacts that reflect potential pathways for social and technical learning. The results demonstrated that 17% of growers adopted combinations of bees (e.g. honey bees, Apis mellifera, with other species), representing an innovation in use by early adopters; 49% of growers adopted flowering cover crops, an innovation in use by the early majority 55% of growers retained permanent habitat for pollinators, an innovation in use by the late majority. Not all growers adopted innovative practices. We found that growers' personal experience with potential benefits and concerns related to the management practices had significant positive and negative relationships, respectively, with adoption of all three innovations. The influence of these communication links likely has different levels of importance, depending on the stage of the adoption that a practice is experiencing in the agricultural community. Social learning was positively associated with adopting the use of combinations of bees, highlighting the potentially critical roles of peer-to-peer networks and social learning in supporting early stages of adoption of innovations. Engaging with grower networks and understanding grower experience with benefits and concerns associated with innovative practices is needed to inform outreach, extension, and policy efforts designed to stimulate management innovations in agroecosystems.
Journal of Environmental Management – Elsevier
Published: Dec 15, 2017
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