Factors underlying Dutch farmers’ intentions to adapt their agronomic management to reduce Fusarium species infection in wheat

E.M. Janssen*, M.C.M. Mourits*, H.J. van der Fels-Klerx, A.G.J.M. Oude Lansink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Infection of wheat by Fusarium species can lead to Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) and mycotoxin contamination, thereby reducing food quality and food safety, and leading to economic losses. Agronomic management through the implementation of various pre-harvest measures can reduce the probability of Fusarium spp. infection in the wheat field. To design interventions that could stimulate wheat farmers to (further) improve their agronomic management to reduce FHB, it is key to understand farmers’ behaviour towards adapting their management. The aim of this paper was to understand the intention, underlying behavioural constructs, and beliefs of Dutch wheat farmers to adapt their agronomic management to reduce FHB and mycotoxin contamination in wheat, applying the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB). Data were collected from 100 Dutch wheat farmers via a questionnaire. The standard TPB analysis was extended with an assessment of the robustness of the belief results to account for the statistical validity of the analysis on TPB beliefs (i.e. to address the so-called expectancy-value muddle). Forty-six percent of the farmers had a positive intention to change their management in the next 5 years. The two behavioural constructs significantly related to this intention were attitude and social norm, whereas association with the perceived behavioural control construct was insignificant indicating that farmers did not perceive any barriers to change their behaviour. Relevant attitudinal beliefs indicated specific attributes of wheat, namely yield, quality and safety (lower mycotoxin contamination). This indicates that strengthening these beliefs—by demonstrating that a change in management will result in a higher yield and quality and lower mycotoxin levels—will result in a stronger attitude and, subsequently, a higher intention to change management. Interventions to strengthen these beliefs should preferably go by the most important referents for social norms, which were the buyers and the farmer cooperatives in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0237460
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9 September 2020
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2020


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