•The potential of energy conservation in commercial buildings in Qatar was discussed.•A matrix of key energy conservation options in commercial buildings was presented.•Scenarios analysis was used to estimate the energy conservation alternatives.•The potential GHG emission reductions through energy conservation were discussed. This paper considers energy conservation practices in Qatar with special emphasis on commercial buildings. Energy conservation approaches are classified into five main areas and an Energy Conservation Matrix (ECM) database for buildings is developed. The ECM maps the energy conservation techniques/technologies to models versus their application domain. Three scenarios (building envelope design, change in customer behavior, and consideration of renewable energy supply) are analyzed to study different alternatives for efficiency improvement. The analysis is done in a case hotel. The analysis shows that, the energy conservation potential of using envelope redesign for the case study is about 7.5% while conservation through behavior change ranges between 2.74% and 15.80%. The conserved energy potential ranges between 10% and 24.12% of the site energy in the combinatorial scenario that integrated envelope design alternatives with customer behavior change. The renewable energy (RE) scenario conserves energy, indirectly, by using green energies generated from renewable sources. The output shows that due to changes as per the three scenarios, total CO2 emissions of the building are also reduced. The analysis shows that adoption of 30% RE alternative can reduce emissions by about 27% with respect to the reference scenario. It is believed that the scenarios developed in this paper and the results obtained will motivate the designers to consider alternative designs or redesigns in the large scale commercial buildings.
•Crop advisers believe they have an intermediary role to play in installing and maintaining conservation practices.•Independent and retail-affiliated crop advisers hold divergent views on their respective roles to delivering conservation information.•Difficulties in collaboration between crop advisers and government agencies prevent crop advisers from promoting conservation policies and programs.•Future policies must more explicitly address whether and how CAs’ conservation contributions are incentivized, compensated, and/or overseen. Federal agricultural land use policies in the United States aimed at protecting soil health and water quality typically rely on persuading individual farmers to voluntarily adopt conservation practices. An expanding body of literature suggests that private sector intermediaries, such as crop advisers, are increasingly trusted sources of information for farmers about conservation practices and thus may be persuasive actors in the conservation-adoption realm. While previous studies have explored farmers’ perceptions of crop advisers facilitating conservation practice adoption and participating in conservation programs in agricultural landscapes, little research to date has explored crop advisers’ perceptions of this role, and few agricultural land use policies have explicitly included crop advisers as conservation partners. This study fills a critical void in the literature by evaluating the Saginaw Bay Regional Conservation Partnership Program, an innovative agricultural policy that relies on crop advisers to recruit farmers into the program and assist them with the adoption of conservation practices. Through a survey and interviews with crop advisers in the Saginaw Bay watershed in Michigan, USA, we explore crop advisers’ perceptions of their role in the program and of delivering conservation information to farmers. We found that crop advisers have positive attitudes towards land/water resources and conservation practices, believe they have an important intermediary role to play in facilitating conservation practice adoption, and believe their supervisors are supportive of them promoting conservation. However, difficulties in collaboration and communication between the private and governmental sectors – resulting from perceived differences, operational differences, and territoriality – present a key barrier to crop advisers increasing their intermediary role in the promotion and implementation of federal conservation programs. Future research and policy initiatives should explore how to address public-private territoriality and whether crop advisers should be incentivized to deliver information about conservation practices and/or assist in enrolling farmers in federal conservation programs.
•Single value carbon management index (CMI) was developed in the Indian Himalayas.•Significant positive relationships were found between CMI and crop yields.•Significant negative relationships were observed between CMI and soil loss.•Minimum tillage, weed mulching with grassed buffer strips was best soil erosion control method.•The single value CMI could potentially be used for soil degradation assessment. The carbon management index (CMI) and labile organic carbon (LOC) pools are postulated as very sensitive indicators of changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) due to land degradation within a short time in response to management practices. To test this hypothesis, we investigated LOC and CMI under a field experiment (2007–2013) in relation to runoff, soil loss, maize and wheat yields on a 2% (1.15°) land slope of the Indian Himalayas. In this study, the impacts of several resource conservation practices, including different combinations of vegetative barriers (VB), minimum tillage (MT), different organic amendments (OA) and weed mulch, were evaluated. Results revealed that the plots under MT+OA with three applications of weed mulch had more SOC, macroaggregate-associated C concentrations and macroaggregates than conventional tillage (CT)+NPK with chemical weed control. Carbon management index varied from 47 to 59 and 42 to 55% with different conservation practices at depths of 0–5 and 5–15cm depths, respectively. Incorporation of weed mulch along with application of OM, MT and VB (by Palmarosa) under MT improved CMI by 19.7 and 24.2% compared to CT plots with VB (by Panicum) and inorganic NPK at depths of 0–5 and 5–15cm, respectively. Significant positive correlations were observed between CMI and maize yield (r=0.948; n=24; P<0.01), CMI and wheat yield (r=0.872; n=24; P<0.01) and CMI and wheat equivalent yield (r=0.906; n=24; P<0.01). However, significant negative correlations were obtained for CMI and runoff (r=−0.701; n=20; P<0.01) and CMI and soil loss (r=−0.768; n=20; P<0.01). Results established that Palmarosa as VB along with OA plus weed-mulch under MT was the best management practice for decreasing runoff and soil loss and increasing system productivity on a 2% slope in the region. The single value CMI was strongly positively correlated with crop productivity and negatively correlated with soil loss. Hence, this single value CMI could potentially be used for assessment of soil degradation elsewhere.
To increase the efficacy of agri-environmental schemes (AES), as well as farmers' environmental engagement, practitioners are increasingly turning to collective forms of agri-environmental management. As yet, empirical evidence from such approaches is relatively scarce. Here, we examined a farmland bird conservation project coordinated by BirdLife Sweden, the Swedish Volunteer & Farmer Alliance (SVFA). The key features of the SVFA were farmland bird inventories from volunteering birdwatchers and on-farm visits to individual farmers from conservation advisors for guidance on AES as well as unsubsidised practices. Using an ex-post application of the theory of planned behaviour across project participants and a randomly sampled control group of farmers we assessed how SVFA affected behavioural intentions relating to AES and unsubsidised conservation, and how the behaviour was affected by attitudes, perceived social norms and perceived behavioural control. We also included a measure of self-identity as a conservationist to assess its importance for behavioural intentions, and if SVFA stimulated this self-identity. SVFA farmers reported greater commitment to implementing AES and unsubsidised conservation, as compared to the control group. However, greater commitment was associated with more positive attitudes for unsubsidised conservation only and not for AES, underlining the inability of existing AES to prompt intrinsic motivation. There were also differences between farmers within SVFA, where farmers applying to the project were motivated by social influences, while farmers recruited by project managers were motivated by their personal beliefs regarding nature conservation. Finally, farmers' self-perceived ability to perform practices (i.e. perceived behavioural control) was important for their commitment to implementing AES as well as unsubsidised practices. Therefore, increasing farmers' awareness regarding the availability and, not least, practicability of available conservation options may be the key to successful biodiversity conservation in agricultural systems. •Coordinated nature conservation increased farmers' intentions to implement actions.•Motivations behind implementing conservation practices differed among farmers.•Farmers' perceived ability to implement practices was important for intention.•Knowledge about available practices is key for effective biodiversity conservation.
The rate and extent of adoption of conservation practices by farmers is influenced, in principle, by characteristics of the practices and those of the farmers. Governments use policy instruments to increase the rate of adoption of practices which generate public benefits if it is deemed that privately optimal adoption rates will not lead to publicly optimal conservation outcomes. Recent nation-wide conservation programs in Australia have attracted criticism for low levels of effectiveness and efficiency. Could it be that program design has ignored key adoption factors, in particular characteristics of the target audience? If adoption is subject to personal factors, such as the motivations for farming, then it is likely that so are farmers’ responses to policy approaches and instruments. In this case study, surveys were conducted of farmers in three regions within the tropical savannas of northern Australia, where land-use systems are characterized by large-scale broad-acre beef grazing enterprises. Inter alia, these surveys collected data on graziers’ motivations, impediments to adoption of conservation practices, and perceived effectiveness of policy instruments in overcoming impediments. The research found that graziers had a very high level of conservation and lifestyle motivation and were motivated to lesser extents by financial/economic and social considerations, pointing to a strong stewardship ethic of graziers, or altruistic motif. Motivational profiles were significantly correlated with farmers’ perceptions about what constrained them from implementing conservation based management systems. Motivational profiles also explained differences in farmers’ perceptions of and stated propensity to interact with policy instruments, particularly at a regional scale and in the context of historical government interventions. On the basis of the empirical evidence presented, governments would be well advised to harness the diverse set of aspirations and motivations of farmers when designing conservation programs rather than. In particular, conservation programs need to take advantage of farmers’ stewardship ethic for maximum effectiveness and efficiency, and minimize the risk of crowding out intrinsic motivation and altruistic behaviours.
Conservation practices are widely used to reduce N and P loads from agricultural fields and minimize their impact on water quality, but research using field‐scale data to model the national average impact of conservation practices for different forms of N and P is needed. Thus, we quantified the effects of conservation practices (grassed waterways, terraces, contour farming, filter strips, and riparian buffers) on total, particulate, and dissolved N and P runoff from farmlands. Specifically, we conducted a meta‐analysis of the Measured Annual Nutrient loads from AGricultural Environments (MANAGE) database using propensity score matching and multilevel modeling to remove the influence of confounding factors. There is no best method for addressing this influence, so we applied two alternative methods because similar results increase confidence in our findings. Propensity score matching found that conservation practices reduced total P, particulate P, and particulate N loading by an average of 67, 83, and 67%, respectively. Multilevel modeling estimated reductions of 58, 76, and 64% for the same nutrients. Although the propensity score method only yields a mean rate of reduction, multilevel modeling further estimates the reduction for different subgroups (i.e., different crops and fertilizer application methods) when such groupings are feasible. The multilevel models indicated that conservation practices affected row crops the most (e.g., corn [Zea mays L.] and soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.]) and fields with injected or surface‐applied fertilizers. Our analysis used field‐scale data to estimate the average effectiveness of conservation practices in reducing N and P runoff, providing valuable insight for regional and national decision making. Core Ideas Balancing confounding factors enabled us to conclude the effect of conservation practices. Total P and particulate P and N had >50% reductions in loading due to conservation practices. Conservation practices are most effective at reducing the loading of particulate P and N.
There are two broadly conceptualized ways in which conservation knowledge may evolve: the depletion crisis model and the ecological understanding model. The first one argues that developing conservation thought and practice depends on learning that resources are depletable. Such learning typically follows a resource crisis. The second mechanism emphasizes the development of conservation practices following the incremental elaboration of environmental knowledge by a group of people. These mechanisms may work together. Following a perturbation, a society can self-organize, learn and adapt. The self-organizing process, facilitated by knowledge development and learning, has the potential to increase the resilience (capability to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change) of resource use systems. Hence, conservation knowledge can develop through a combination of long-term ecological understanding and learning from crises and mistakes. It has survival value, as it increases the resilience of integrated social—ecological systems to deal with change in ways that continue to sustain both peoples and their environments.
Restoration of degraded lands by adoption of recommended conservation management practices can rehabilitate watersheds and lead to improving soil and water quality. The objective was to evaluate the effects of grass buffers (GBs), biomass crops (BCs), grass waterways (GWWs), agroforestry buffers (ABs), landscape positions, and distance from tree base for AB treatment on soil quality compared with row crop (RC) (corn [Zea mays L.]–soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] rotation) on claypan soils. Soil samples were taken from 10‐cm‐depth increments from the soil surface to 30 cm for GB, BC, GWW, and RC with three replicates. Soil samples were collected from summit, backslope, and footslope landscape positions. Samples were taken at 50‐ and 150‐cm distances from the tree base. β‐Glucosidase, β‐glucosaminidase, dehydrogenase, fluorescein diacetate hydrolase (FDA), soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN), active carbon (AC), and water‐stable aggregates (WSA) were measured. Results showed that β‐glucosidase, β‐glucosaminidase, dehydrogenase, FDA, AC, WSA, and TN values were significantly greater (P < 0.01) for the GB, BC, GWW, and AB treatments than for the RC treatment. The first depth (0–10 cm) revealed the highest values for all soil quality parameters relative to second and third depths. The footslope landscape had the highest parameter values compared with summit and backslope positions. The 50‐cm distance of AB treatment had higher values than the 150‐cm distance for all measured parameters. Results showed that perennial vegetation practices enhanced soil quality by improving soil microbial activity and SOC. Core Ideas Permanent vegetative management (trees and grasses) enhanced soil quality. Perennial practices improved microbial activity and increased soil organic carbon. Perennial vegetative practices have agricultural and environmental significance. Establishing perennial practices is an effective approach to enhance soil quality.
•Integrated effects of tillage, N fertilization and straw management were studied.•Straw incorporation lowers N2O emission only at optimal N fertilization.•No impacts on CH4 were observed for single or integrated farming practices.•No-till, straw addition and optimal N fertilization = high yields & reduced GHG. No-till (NT), straw incorporation (SI) and optimized N fertilization are important mitigation options for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agroecosystems. These measures may also help to maintain high crop production and are frequently recommended for use in northern China. Few studies, however, have addressed the interactive effects of these conservation and fertilization practices with respect to GHG emissions and crop yields. We report on a field experiment conducted in two consecutive dry years (2013–2015) when precipitation was much lower than the long-term average. We examined the effects of three different N fertilizer application rates, tillage practice and straw management on crop yields, GHG, area-scaled GHG (in global warming potential) and net ecosystem economic budget (NEEB) of a winter wheat-summer maize rotation system in northern China. Results showed that reducing N fertilizer significantly decreased soil N2O emissions without affecting annual crop yields. Compared with the average of all other fertilization treatments, the no-till × straw incorporation (NT × SI) practice increased both wheat and maize yields. However, in the maize season, NT also increased cumulative N2O emissions compared with conventional tillage (CT). The practices of combining N fertilization with straw management conferred an additional effect on N2O emissions when compared with single practices (i.e. fertilization or straw management). Compared with straw removal (SR) treatments, SI increased annual cumulative N2O emissions by 37% for the conventional N fertilization, but decreased them by 13% at the optimized N fertilization. Neither single practice nor integrated practices had a significant effect on cumulative CH4 uptake. The highest NEEB values were obtained in NT × SI × optimal N fertilization (OPT) and NT × SR × OPT in the 1st and 2nd cropping years, respectively. We conclude that, when considering the additional benefits of SI for improving soil fertility and C sequestration, the NT × SI × OPT practice would be a viable strategy to achieve high crop yields, while simultaneously reducing GHG emissions.