Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Exploring farmers' behavior toward individual and collective measures of Western Corn Rootworm control - a case study in south-east Austria.

Abstract

Invasive species are considered a major threat for global agricultural production, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Their spread and establishment is mainly influenced by bio-physical factors, but also by people's activities such as tourism or farming. Understanding farmers' behavior is necessary to develop effective control measures. We conducted qualitative semi-structured interviews in south-east Austria to explore factors that facilitate or impede farmers' behavior to individually or collectively control the invasive Western Corn Rootworm (WCR, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera). We analyze the interview contents using the Capability-Opportunity-Motivation-Behavior model (COM-B model). Our results show that farmers' motivation and related behavior is influenced by intra- and interpersonal factors such as their knowledge about WCR control measures (capability psychological), perceived societal acceptance of WCR control measures or perceived normative obligations to participate in collective measures (opportunity social). Farmers' motivation (reflective and automatic) for implementing individual or collective WCR control measures is mainly determined by their perceived self-efficacy, their perceived efficacy of WCR control measures and the perceived severity of WCR damages. Contextual factors such as environmental conditions, legal regulations, the landscape composition, the farm type or financial impacts of WCR control measures (opportunity physical) are essential prerequisites for farmers' behavior. The results suggest that new modes of knowledge transfer are required to facilitate the proactive implementation of individual and collective WCR control measures prior to trigger events, such as severe WCR damages. The development of a trusting and communicative environment between farmers is key for collective WCR control. Exchange with residents about WCR and applied control measures may help to create a shared understanding and increase societal acceptance. Moreover, a long-term and proactive coordination which meets individual famers' needs is required to implement collective WCR control measures. Farmers who have successfully implemented individual and collective WCR measures may encourage non-applicants and sceptics by "learning from peers".