PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to understand the critical factors associated with growing fertilizer usage culminating in contamination of soil/water in agriculturally intensive regions of Uttar Pradesh, India. The agriculture sector is seen as one of the major contributors in ensuring food security, however adoption of sustainable agriculture to protect water resources from contamination due to fertilizers and pesticides is becoming pressing to achieve long term environmental security.Design/methodology/approachA two staged study aimed at monitoring the soil quality status followed by stakeholder survey has been attempted. Attitude-behavior framework based on the theory of reasoned action has been tried to explain the fertilizer use behavior in the study. The results are analyzed through Analysis of variance.FindingsSoil monitoring data showed nitrate and total nitrogen loadings beyond the permissible limit in the identified regions. A questionnaire aimed at determining farmer’s attitude toward fertilizer usage showed a significant influence of factors like net farm income, overall farm yield, extension services, farmer characteristics on one hand and risks associated with changing farming practices, costs of substitutes available, market-based instruments like subsidies and loans on the other. Divergent responses were observed with respect to farmer’s perceived risks from adopting to organic substitutes, linkages of fertilizer application with environmental degradation and the level of adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.Research limitations/implicationsThe study can be scaled up to study the inter-regional differences by benchmarking regional responses. It would be interesting to extend the work to find solutions from the farmers as alternative fertility management strategies. The items used in questionnaire are self-made; hence there is still a possibility of enhancing the robustness of scale by applying advanced statistical techniques.Practical implicationsResults of the study indicate excessive nitrogen loadings in farm soils which is an indicator of potential future nitrate contaminated zones or vulnerable zones emerging in agricultural intensive regions. Findings reinforce the role of education, knowledge transfer and awareness for long-term agricultural sustainability. The paper highlights the urgency for reorientation of the support system by the government and policymakers.Originality/valueThe paper attempts to understand the linkage between the agricultural productivity and the environmental implications followed by the reasons culminating in the agri-environmental imbalance. On-site monitoring study followed by assessment of reasons culminating in this scenario has not been attempted earlier and this paper contributes to understanding at dual level. This paper emphasizes on the insights of stakeholder which is instrumental in ensuring agricultural sustainability or otherwise. It takes the position that the farmer’s farm management behavior is strongly influenced by factors like food security and income, keeping environmental quality at second place. It also identifies the barriers for organic farming and other alternative systems as well as explores the economic, social, and philosophical aspects of sustainable agriculture.
Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 12, 2018
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