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Engaging Farmer Stakeholders: Maize Producers’ Perceptions of and Strategies for Managing On-Farm Genetic Diversity in the Upper Midwest

Department of Agronomy, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
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Academic Editor: Aled Jones
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8843; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168843
Received: 26 June 2021 / Revised: 1 August 2021 / Accepted: 5 August 2021 / Published: 7 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture)
Debates about the genetic diversity of cultivated crops have riled the scientific community. While there have been studies on measuring genetic diversity among crop types, none have described on-farm genetic diversity in U.S. maize (Zea mays) because of patent restrictions. The approximately 36.5 million hectares of U.S. maize planted by farmers annually is carried out largely without them having knowledge of the seed genetic background. The literature shows a shrinking of genetic diversity in commercially available hybrids over time. Given the restrictions on the genetic information given to farmers about their maize seed and the risk it poses to their landscape, we conducted twenty exploratory interviews with farmers in the Upper Midwest regarding their perspectives of and strategies for managing on-farm genetic diversity in their maize crop. The data gathered suggest five themes: (1) managing surface diversity by planting multiple varieties; (2) navigating seed relabeling; (3) lacking clear access to genetic background information; (4) reliance on seed dealers when selecting varieties; and (5) limited quality genetics for organic systems. This study concludes that the lack of access to genetic background data for public researchers, including the United States Department of Agriculture and farmers, does not allow for vulnerability assessments to be carried out on the landscape and puts farmers at risk to crop failure. View Full-Text
Keywords: maize; corn; Zea mays; monoculture; on-farm diversity; genetic diversity maize; corn; Zea mays; monoculture; on-farm diversity; genetic diversity
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MDPI and ACS Style

McCluskey, C.; Tracy, W.F. Engaging Farmer Stakeholders: Maize Producers’ Perceptions of and Strategies for Managing On-Farm Genetic Diversity in the Upper Midwest. Sustainability 2021, 13, 8843. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168843

AMA Style

McCluskey C, Tracy WF. Engaging Farmer Stakeholders: Maize Producers’ Perceptions of and Strategies for Managing On-Farm Genetic Diversity in the Upper Midwest. Sustainability. 2021; 13(16):8843. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168843

Chicago/Turabian Style

McCluskey, Cathleen, and William F. Tracy. 2021. "Engaging Farmer Stakeholders: Maize Producers’ Perceptions of and Strategies for Managing On-Farm Genetic Diversity in the Upper Midwest" Sustainability 13, no. 16: 8843. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168843

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