USDA, Agriculture Research Service, National Soil Erosion Research Lab, 275 South Russell St., West Lafayette, Indiana, 47907, Ashley.Hammac@USDA.ARS.GOV
EQCom is a simulation game for teaching the effects of conventional farming on natural resources and the social challenges involved in implementing solutions. Players are “farmers” who make a series of choices about farming practices, either conservation or conventional. Outcomes result based on those choices and they include aesthetic and economic consequences. Farmers and society prosper if farmers collectively implement conservation practices and protect common resources, but a farmer’s natural economic incentive is to make choices based on short-term private economics benefits instead of long-term private and public benefits. The natural progression in this game is for soil, air, and water resources to degrade and socio-eco-systems to suffer. Farmers will find over time that short-term economic gain must be sacrificed to achieve long-term sustainability and success. Farmers must regulate themselves or be regulated by government to succeed. This is a novel and exciting way to teach students, farmers, policy makers, and others about the complexity of conservation farming. Restoring environmental quality in the commons requires counter intuitive thinking, self-regulation, and consideration of public interest.