Working with water: An exploration of Texas high plains producers’ adoption of water conservation practices in irrigation management
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A vital part of the Texas High Plains economy, agricultural production is sustained by using the Ogallala aquifer as a source of irrigation water, but the aquifer is in decline. Organizations like the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation (TAWC) seek to diminish the depletion of the aquifer while maintaining agricultural productivity. The TAWC has worked to encourage producers to utilize water conservation techniques through irrigation management, but it is unclear what methods producers outside of the TAWC project have actually adopted. It is important to understand what producers are using to determine their educational, technological, and legislative needs and to make projections in long term decision making. Following survey research methodology, this study drew from the Theory of Planned Behavior to explore Texas High Plains producers’ adoption of water conservation practices. Findings indicate producers had positive attitudes toward utilizing advanced irrigation application technologies, monitoring soil moisture, and evaluating crop water demand, and they perceived to have control over performing these water conservation behaviors. Subjective norms for each of the behaviors reflected a neutral stance, negating both strong feelings of social pressure and denial of any social pressure at all. While the theory’s constructs provided insight into producers’ adoption behavior, the theory models were unable to predict producers’ adoption intentions. Additionally, producers’ current water conservation methods were identified, and their level of involvement in the TAWC was ascertained. There were positive correlations between TAWC involvement and water conservation behavior. The research questions are followed by post hoc analyses and recommendations for research and practice.