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Agricultural Water Abstraction Behaviour in Response to Policy and Climate Change

Swinscoe, Thomas Henry Alfred (2017) Agricultural Water Abstraction Behaviour in Response to Policy and Climate Change. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis presents an assessment of farmers' behaviour in response to current changes in climate and policy in the UK. At present, many catchments in England are considered as over licensed or over abstracted and although water licence trading is regarded as a potential solution to the problem, and is currently possible, high transaction costs and institutional barriers deter farmers from trading. In response, two new water allocation systems have been proposed to provide farmers with the ability to adapt to climate and demand change pressures (i.e. basic and enhanced systems). A review of the current literature suggested farmers' behaviour very much influences the success of policy interventions. Therefore, this study sought to understand the behavioural intentions of farmers in England, and the underlying factors which drive their decision-making, under different climate and policy scenarios. Furthermore, this study examined whether farmers with different behavioural intentions lead to different patterns of abstraction behaviour at the system level, thus providing a means of assessing the current and proposed water allocation systems. An empirical survey was conducted within the Great Ouse catchment in eastern England, UK, where freshwater availability for crop irrigation is considered highly vulnerable to climate change. The questionnaire, and subsequent interpretation of behaviours, was developed under the theoretical framework of the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) (Ajzen, 1991). Farmers' preferred behavioural intentions were identified under different strategic (long-term) and in-season (short-term) water shortage and surplus scenarios. Furthermore, the TPB explained between 29-65 % of the variance in intention, based on Nagelkerke's R2, and was similar to the range found by meta-analytical reviews (i.e. 40-49 % based on R2). In addition, attitude and subjective norm were found to be significant predictors of intention in three of the four scenarios. Overall, farmers believed they have greater volitional control with regards to decision-making in the long-term but less in the short-term. Furthermore, a behavioural farm typology based on farmers' preferred behavioural intentions was used in the development of an Agent-Based Model (ABM) to simulate system level patterns of abstraction behaviour which emerge from individual farm level decision-making. The scenario simulation results indicated the proposed enhanced water allocation system was likely to provide the greatest utility to balance the needs of licence users, at least farmers, whilst protecting the environment.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Agricultural water management, Farmer behaviour, Farm typology, Agent-based modelling
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Earth and Environment (Leeds) > Sustainability Research Institute (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.722755
Depositing User: Thomas Henry Alfred Swinscoe
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2017 09:58
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/18237

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