Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 831–856 | Cite as

Dueling Land Ethics: Uncovering Agricultural Stakeholder Mental Models to Better Understand Recent Land Use Conversion

  • Benjamin L. Turner
  • Melissa Wuellner
  • Timothy Nichols
  • Roger Gates


The aim of this paper is to investigate how alternative land ethics of agricultural stakeholders may help explain recent land use changes. The paper first explores the historical development of the land ethic concept in the United States and how those ethics have impacted land use policy and use of private lands. Secondly, primary data gathered from semi-structured interviews of farmers, ranchers, and influential stakeholders are then analyzed using stakeholder analysis methods to identify major factors considered in land use decisions, priorities of factors of each group, and to define relevant mental models describing each group’s view of the land ethic concept. Results show that these stakeholder groups prioritize land use factors qualitatively differently and possess strikingly different land ethics. It is concluded that shifts in stakeholder land ethics have contributed to recent land use changes. Lastly, we discuss how current agricultural policy sends mixed signals about preferred land use and the potential ramifications based on the different land ethics we’ve described.


Land ethic Mental models Land use Stakeholder analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin L. Turner
    • 1
  • Melissa Wuellner
    • 2
  • Timothy Nichols
    • 3
  • Roger Gates
    • 4
  1. 1.Natural Resource ManagementSouth Dakota State University, West River Ag CenterRapid CityUSA
  2. 2.Natural Resource ManagementBrookingsUSA
  3. 3.Honors CollegeBrookingsUSA
  4. 4.South Dakota State University, West River Ag CenterRapid CityUSA

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