Knowledge Into Action: Why We Do What We Do
All of us who do anything that can be called research want to see the knowledge we create put into action. For our friend and colleague Kate Brauman, from the Institute on the Environment’s Global Water Initiative, that dream has happened, as this blog post describes.
Kate’s research on “crop per drop” has measured how water is being used in particular agricultural practices. Bonsucro, an organization working to increase water efficiency in sugarcane production, worked with Brauman to develop production standards for water that have subsequently been adopted as a certification standard to be applied to production facilities around the world.
What if similar efforts were undertaken with corn and soybean production in the Mississippi River basin? It may be possible, through objective scientific analysis of soils, water sources and other factors, to determine an optimal amount of water for farm fields that would reduce runoff (and the associated carrying of nutrients to the Gulf) while maintaining high production.
And as long as we’re dreaming, we started wondering if there were other areas beyond science where rigorous research would benefit stewardship practices for surface waters in the Mississippi River basin. Can we try to figure out what pictures people have in their minds of what a healthy river or stream looks like, and then find ways to identify key elements of that image and what it would take to protect that element? Is there some way to understand the stories people tell in order to hear why the river is important?