We examine socioecological drivers of nutrient overloading and eutrophication in the Chesapeake Bay associated with poultry production on the Delmarva Peninsula. We use a social metabolic analysis—rooted in a political-economy perspective—that highlights the interchange of matter and energy and the inextricable links within and between social and ecological systems, illuminating the social structural processes contributing to ecological changes. The concentration and consolidation of poultry production through integration, which involves contract farming, and geographic concentration of operations, have been associated with intensified and increased scale of chicken (broiler) production. These processes have had significant effects on waste accumulation, maintenance, and disposal, and this industry has become one of the major contributors of nutrient overloading in the Chesapeake Bay. This study, therefore, specifies social processes that are driving environmental changes between land and sea.
Nutrient Overloading in the Chesapeake Bay: Structural Conditions in Poultry Production and the Socioecological Drivers of Marine Pollution
Stefano B. Longo is Associate Professor of Sociology at North Carolina State University and Visiting Researcher in Climate and Environment in the Department of Sociology at Lund University. His research focuses on the social drivers of environmental change, with an emphasis on sustainability and food systems.
Ellinor Isgren is a researcher at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies. Her research centers on the intersection of agriculture, development, and sustainability, with a particular focus on smallholder settings and processes of social mobilization in rural areas.
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Stefano B. Longo, Ellinor Isgren, Brett Clark; Nutrient Overloading in the Chesapeake Bay: Structural Conditions in Poultry Production and the Socioecological Drivers of Marine Pollution. Sociology of Development 1 December 2021; 7 (4): 416–440. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/sod.2020.0032
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