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dc.contributor.authorBerneheim, Christina Marie Caroline Agneta
dc.description.abstractDairy farming in New Zealand is a major contributor to the economy but is also a source of environmental degradation. Farmers perceive that the public perception of the dairy industry is negative, and that consumers in New Zealand are changing their consumption patterns to favour less meat and dairy products. There are also additional issues that may elicit stress for dairy farmers. Examples include high debt levels, increasing environmental regulation, and mental wellbeing. This study investigated dairy farmers’ decision-making when considering whether to change practices or production systems in response to external stresses. The study set out to identify which practices or production systems dairy farmers choose to adopt or have adopted, and why, but also to synthesize these with theory to show the main processes involved in dairy farmers’ decision-making. An exploratory, mixed-methods approach was employed to address the objectives. The overall production systems under investigation were conventional, biological (including regenerative), and organic (including biodynamic). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 conventional and 15 agroecological participants (seven organic and eight biological) in the first phase of the study. Based on the qualitative results from the interviews, a quantitative survey in the form of a web questionnaire was distributed nationally and answered by 173 respondents. The Protection Motivation Theory was used as a starting point to develop a conceptual framework, which guided the methodological approach. Factors that were identified through literature review as important for farmer decision-making were also added to the conceptual framework. Analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data suggests a model governed by three overall processes that explain dairy farmers’ decision-making in response to their subjective perception of: (1) stress on the farm system, (2) relative advantage, and (3) self-efficacy. These processes are moderated by intra- and interpersonal factors such as beliefs, social connectedness, and values. Finally, facilitating conditions, actual social norms, and actual behavioural control moderate behaviour. The entire model is influenced by the socio-physical context in which the decision takes place. Despite data recruitment limitations, the quantitative data also suggest that 24% of currently conventional respondents were interested in adopting an agroecological production system in the future. Significant reasons for choosing these systems were lower environmental impact, preferred by consumers, and improves public perception. Similar reasons were also offered by conventional respondents for their choice of variations to their production system, such as lowering inputs or intensity, supplying value-add products or diversifying income streams. There appears to be a general move towards adopting lower-input systems that improve profit and wellbeing rather than increasing production. The interest in adopting biological and non-certified organic systems indicates a perceived relative advantage that is not dependent on an external monetary incentive. To support the autonomy of farmers when choosing practices or production systems that suit them best, authorities are encouraged to acknowledge and research all available options and support local networks and peer-to-peer learning.en
dc.publisherLincoln University
dc.subjectrelative advantageen
dc.subjectdairy farmingen
dc.subjectfarmer behaviouren
dc.subjectorganic farmingen
dc.subjectbiological farmingen
dc.subjectregenerative agricultureen
dc.subjectenvironmental degradationen
dc.subjectenvironmental regulationen
dc.subjectdecision makingen
dc.subjectcoping strategiesen
dc.titleDairy farmers’ decision-making about their practices and production systems – to change or not to change? : A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Applied Science at Lincoln Universityen
dc.typeThesisen Universityen of Applied Scienceen
lu.thesis.supervisorRoberts, Lin
lu.thesis.supervisorRosin, Christopher
lu.thesis.supervisorSteel, Gary
lu.contributor.unitDepartment of Environmental Management
dc.subject.anzsrc170199 Psychology not elsewhere classifieden
dc.subject.anzsrc050205 Environmental Managementen
dc.subject.anzsrc160804 Rural Sociologyen
dc.rights.licenceAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
dc.subject.anzsrc2020300208 Farm management, rural management and agribusinessen
dc.subject.anzsrc2020300403 Agronomyen
dc.subject.anzsrc2020410405 Environmental rehabilitation and restorationen

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