Keywords: agricultural ecosystem services, agricultural practices, agricultural resources, automated environmental monitoring, catchment areas, cost efficiency, decision making, environmental management, environmental monitoring platforms, environmental technology, farmers, Finland, mental models, risk management, sustainability, sustainable agriculture, sustainable development
Environmental technology in the sustainable use of agricultural ecosystem services: the relevance of farmers' mental models
We assessed the roles of automated environmental monitoring technology in the sustainable use of agricultural ecosystem services in the Karjaanjoki River catchment area in Finland by examining the mental models of 39 farmers participating in an environmental monitoring platform. The monitoring data served the farmers in their decision–making and risk management, in addition to holding a potential for environmental research and monitoring. The farmers' main interests, however, lay in finding cost–efficient agricultural practices, not in environmental monitoring or management as such. Greater familiarisation of users may enhance the usability of technology. Fundamental functional deficiencies, however, can only be remedied by further development. Participatory planning and the study of farmers' mental models should thus be applied already in the designing stage. In future, new technologies should be integrated into farmers' mental models, so as to facilitate, complement and correct traditional models of sustainability.