Assessing the sustainable behavior of agricultural water operators and its correlates in south Khorasan province

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Agricultural Extension and Education, Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and Rural Development, Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources University of Khuzestan, Ahwaz, Iran


Among numerous natural resources, the water accounts as an increasingly scarce resource in Iran. Especially, in South Khorasan, a province with low annual rainfall, groundwater is a vital resource for agricultural systems. In recent years, the frequent and prolonged droughts led to aquifer overexploitation by agricultural operators. Because human behavior is the most important issue in environmental challenges, changing operators’ behavior plays an important role in sustainable resource management. For this reason, the present study aimed to investigate agricultural operators’ sustainable behavior and its correlates in South Khorasan.
Material and methods:
The present study is practical in terms of its nature and objectives, a descriptive survey in terms of data collection, and a correlation study in terms of analyzing the data. The total statistical population was the agricultural operators from the wells in seven counties (N=49685). A Purposive-quota sampling method was used (n=381) and the total data were gathered via the use of a research-based questionnaire. In total, 273 filled questionnaires were obtained. For assessing sustainable behavior based on Tapia-Fonllem research, four dimensions named pro-ecological, equity, frugality, and altruism were assessed. The reliability of the questionnaire was confirmed by calculating Cronbach’s alpha coefficient which was obtained 0.70-0.88. The data were analyzed using SPSS v.22 and AMOS v.22.
Results and discussion:
According to descriptive analysis, 84% of respondents were the owner of the farms and around 80% were the owner of the wells. However, 92% of them had lower than 24 hours share of the well’s water. Also, 96% of farm systems were peasant. Both dependent and independent variables were analyzed via Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). However, Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) was used to confirm the goodness of the latent variables. According to the results, pro-environmental behavior, equity, frugality, and altruism initially showed fit-indices. In addition, the result of SEM showed that intention predicted 0.56 percent of variations in Sustainable groundwater behaviour (SGWB). Results of this study showed that attitudes towards drought had a positive and direct effect on the intention by 0.47 percent. In addition, environmental identity had a direct and positive effect on intention too. Subjective norm and personal obligation had a positive and indirect effect on intention variable. Also, intention and environmental behavior had a positive and direct effect on SGWB.
It is necessary to do measures in order to conserve groundwater sustainability. Changing behavior is the most important factor to achieve this goal. According to the results of the present study, it could be concluded that if the operators of the wells have a clear attitude towards the drought and its effect, they can get a better decision on sustainable agricultural water management at farm level. In addition, if operators believe that their measures determine the sustainability of groundwater, they will try to improve their environmental identity and personal obligation. However, practical extension and education programs in environmental, social, and economic aspects can help to improve groundwater sustainable behavior among agricultural operators.


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