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Register now for the Center for Behavioral and Experimental Agri-Environmental Research's spring 2024 Virtual Seminar Series. Sessions run through April. 

Behavioral & Experimental Agri-Environmental Research

At the Center for Behavioral and Experimental Agri-environmental Research (CBEAR), we are conducting groundbreaking studies that tests behavioral insights to improve agri-environmental programs.  Unique in what we do, CBEAR remains the leading producer of behavioral research that applies to agricultural and environmental topics that benefit farmers and the environment.  By using insights from our experiments, we work with policymakers and private institutions to make conservation programs more accessible and sustainable for all communities.

Why Behavioral Economics?

Behavioral economics is a field of inquiry that uses principles of economics and psychology to understand how individuals make decisions.  Using insights from this perspective helps people make choices that are consistent with their own long-term interests.

At CBEAR, we use behavioral economics to help conservation practitioners, scientists and producers.  We identify the best ways to ensure program adoption and aim to better understand what leads to persistent conservation practices.

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Behavioral Economics Focuses on the Real Challenges of Conservation.

We study what most cost effectively leads to adoption and the persistence of conservation practices.   We also test to determine whether simpler application processes can deliver higher levels of program participation and landowner satisfaction.  

Our approach involves working together in dialogue with landowners, policymakers, and the private sector to jointly define our research with agri-environmental program administrators. 

We start with examining the application process of conservation programs.  We also target groups of farmers with relatively low conservation practice adoption.  In particular, historically underserved producers (HUP) to find out what is getting in their way of accessing conservation programs.   

Our research relies primarily on federal grants and the financial support of NGOs.  However, with environmental challenges being largely the result of human behavior, more money is needed for behavioral research that supports pathways to adoption and sustainability.



By the Numbers

We follow the data that leads to where our research needs to focus.  Taken only once every five years, the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture is a survey-based count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The survey provides the most recent data regarding land use practices by the number of farms and the number of acres. 


increase in the acreage of cover crops from 2012 to 2017


increase in the number of U.S. cropland acres using conservation practices from 2012 to 2017


of U.S. farmland is involved in conservation practices


Behavioral Economics Addresses

the Data and What's Behind It

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Research from World-Renowned Scientists

Read Our News and Publications 

In the News


The Center for Behavioral and Experimental Agri-Environmental Research Virtual Seminar Series Returns

Our virtual seminar series returns on Thursday, January 25, 2024.

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CBEAR Mark Masters Selected NACD Secretary-Treasurer Elect

CBEAR is proud to announce that our Director of Outreach, Mark Masters, is the new National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Secretary-Treasurer elect. 

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Field to Market: Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture™ Named 2022 CBEAR Innovation Prize Winner 

The Center for Behavioral & Experimental Agri-Environmental Research congratulates Field to Market:  The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture™ as the winner of the 2022 Innovation Prize. 

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Economist David Pannell Joins

Our Distinguished Fellows List

CBEAR welcomes esteemed environmental economist David Pannell as one of our newest fellows. 

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 Recent Publications

Making More Effective Use of Behavioural Science in Conservation Interventions.

2021 Biological Conservation
Balmford, A, Bradbury, R., Bauer, JM, Broad, S., Burgess, G., Burgman, M., Byerly, H., Clayton, S.,  Espelosin, D., Ferraro, PJ,  Fisher, B., Garnett, EE, Jones, JPG, Marteau, T., Otieno, M., Polasky, S., Ricketts, TH, Sandbrook, C., Trevelyan, R., van der Linden, S., Veríssimo, D., Nielsen, KS.

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Using a Randomized Controlled Trial to Develop Strategies on Rented Farmlands

2021 Conservation Letters
Weigel, C%, S. Harden, Y Masuda, P Ranjan, C Wardropper, PJ Ferraro, L Prokopy, S Reddy.

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Biodiversity Conservation as a Promising Frontier for Behavioural Science

2021 Nature Human Behaviour
Nielsen, K. S., Marteau, T., Bauer, JM, Bradbury, RB, Broad, S., Burgess, G., Burgman, M., Byerly, H., Clayton, S.,  Espelosin, D., Ferraro, PJ,  Fisher, B., Garnett, EE, Jones, JPG, Otieno, M., Polasky, S., Ricketts, TH, Trevelyan, R., van der Linden, S., Veríssimo, D., Balmford, A.

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