Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 607–617 | Cite as

Grassland farmers’ attitudes toward climate change in the North German Plain

  • Markus EggersEmail author
  • Manfred Kayser
  • Johannes Isselstein
Original Article


Climate change impacts will affect grassland farming in various ways in the future. Communication and knowledge transfer are crucial to implement on-farm adaptation measures required to meet these challenges in a timely way. Therefore, we need to know how grassland farmers perceive climate change and which factors influence their attitude. We hypothesized that besides direct factors such as region, farm size, age and education, farmers’ socio-cultural background and their beliefs and attitudes are most important in their reaction to climate change. To investigate this, we conducted a survey with extensive on-farm interviews (n = 82) in four distinctive regions in the North German Plain on a gradient from sub-maritime to areas with sub-continental climate. We found that with a more continental climate and less rainfall and with increasing farm size, grassland farmers were more aware of the implications of climate change. In a second step, to categorize the influence of personal beliefs on decisions concerning farming, we applied the typology approach and distinguished four farming styles. Farmers in the four groups differed in terms of climate change awareness and adaptation preferences (P < 0.05). Yield Optimizers and Modernists were more open-minded to rational and economic facts and showed a significantly greater willingness to implement adaptation measures than Idealists and Traditionalists, who need to be addressed at a more emotional level. The results of this study may contribute to the development of better‐targeted adaptation policies that will serve specific groups of farmers more effectively.


Adaptation measures Climate change awareness Farming styles Farm survey 



This project (Nachhaltiges Landmanagement im Norddeutschen Tiefland, FKZ 033L029) was supported by the German Ministry of Research (BMBF).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus Eggers
    • 1
    Email author
  • Manfred Kayser
    • 1
  • Johannes Isselstein
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Crop Sciences, Grassland ScienceGeorg-August-University GöttingenVechtaGermany
  2. 2.Department of Crop Sciences, Grassland ScienceGeorg-August-University GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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