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Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy

The Bush School of Government and Public Service

Texas A&M University
1112 Allen Building
4350 TAMU College Station, Texas 77843-4350

Dr. Portney, ISTPP Director, Researches the Soil-Water-Food Nexus

Dr. Portney recently authored a chapter in the book, Global Soil Security, in which he reported his research on people’s awareness of the agriculture-water nexus. Utilizing data collected from the 2013 National Public Water Survey, conducted by ISTPP, Portney analyzes the relative strength of this awareness and the influence of such on support for actions and policies.

Portney’s research shows that people understand that water is crucial to growing crops and raising livestock. Most people also connect drought conditions to severe negative impacts on agriculture. Overall, people expressed less certainty that drought would cause damage to plant and animal species though about half of respondents perceived this connection. Analysis of survey responses also show that people are much more willing to take personal actions to conserve water the stronger their awareness of the connection between water and agriculture. Higher awareness also leads to higher support for public policies to save water though the strength of this relationship is somewhat less.

While this survey did not delve deeply into the water-agriculture nexus, the results make a strong case there is more to explore. Indeed, ISTPP designed a survey that enables investigation of nexus issues – the National Public Opinion Project on the Water-Energy Food Nexus. You can learn about this survey, conducted in 2015, and its findings here.

Portney, Kent E. 2017. “Soil-Water-Food Nexus: A Public Opinion and Policy Perspective.” In Global Soil Security, Progress in Soil Science, edited by Damien J. Field, Cristine L.S. Morgan, and Alex B. McBratney, 371-381. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature.