(Photo: Shawn Schottler, center, talks with Duane Ninneman of CURE, and Terry Vanderpol of Land Stewardship Project).
Water quality scientist Dr. Shawn Schottler recognizes the basic role of economics in agricultural land use.
Perhaps best known for his research on the sources and fate of sediment impairing water quality, Dr. Shawn Schottler does water quality research at the St. Croix Watershed Research Station of the Science Museum of Minnesota. Schottler also recognizes the basic role of economics in the challenge of improving and protecting water quality.
Without a market incentive for agriculture landowners to use cover crops, perennials, and other BMPs for water quality, we will not progress toward achieving water quality goals, Schottler says. "Markets are the biggest possibility for changing water quality," he said, speaking at the Chippewa River Watershed Project annual meeting in Starbuck. "If we don't do this, we can't get there."
"We must create markets for perennials"
Despite spending billions of dollars in recent decades, there has been little overall improvement in water quality, Schottler says. "It's all about economics. We must create markets for perennials." More regulation is technologically cumbersome and expensive, he says. Instead, there could be markets created for biomass, or incentives for conservation linked to crop insurance, Schottler says. "Improving water quality is only possible through farmers, and they will grow what is profitable. The public needs to support the markets that have water quality benefits."