Great Lakes Watershed Ecological Sustainability Strategy Phase II: Payments for Ag Ecosystem Service [2013 - 2015]

Principal Investigator: Scott M. Swinton
Co-Principal Investigators:
  • Robert Shupp
  • John Kerr (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) Co-PI; Robert Richardson (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) Co-PI

Project end date: September 30, 2015


This project is MSU’s portion of a larger project including The Nature Conservancy and LimnoTech, inc., and is funded by the Great Lakes Protection Fund during 2012-14 via a pass-through from The Nature Conservancy.

The overall project aims to develop a Great Lakes Watershed Ecological Sustainability Strategy (GLWESS) that mitigates agricultural flows of nutrients and sediments that are harmful to aquatic ecosystems.   The project will develop and apply tools to quantify the ecological benefits of agricultural best management practices (BMPs) and determine outcome-based means to optimize those practices in select watersheds in the Great Lakes Basin.  Using these tools, the project will explore agricultural certification and reward-for-performance transaction frameworks to improve watershed and coastal ecosystem function.  

MSU’s portion of the project involves economic research in three areas:

  • To test farmer response to potential transactions with alternative mechanisms that pay for environmental services via changed crop management practices (Led by Scott Swinton and Rob Shupp, AFRE). 
  • To explore county drain commissioners the viability of drain maintenance fees linked to sediment flows and aquatic ecological impacts (Led by John Kerr and Robby Richardson, CSUS).
  • To evaluate the feasibility of production sustainability certifications at the retail level (Led by John Kerr, CSUS).

Information Link

  • Click here to view a video by the Great Lakes Connect Now program with a 2-hour feature on Freshwater and Farming (advance to 1:18:37 to view discussion about sustainabilty with Professor Scott Swinton)