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Title:Farm and Watershed Economic Impacts of Agricultural Policy Approaches to Reduce Soil Erosion and Sedimentation
Author(s):Sands, Michael Bryce
Department / Program:Agricultural Economics
Discipline:Agricultural Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Economics, Agricultural
Abstract:The adverse effects of soil erosion from agricultural cropland extend beyond the farms where erosion occurs. They include the offsite damages imposed on independent entities downstream.
Alternative policies for reducing soil erosion and sedimentation were evaluated with a linear programming analysis of farms in a selected watershed. These policies included several forms of subsidies for adapting conservation practices or diverting cropland from production, soil loss regulations, and taxes on soil losses.
The impact of these policies on net crop returns and offsite sediment damages was evaluated, along with changes in tillage practices, conservation practices and crop rotations. Where appropriate, impacts were assessed at the watershed and the individual farm levels.
The policies evaluated did result in lower erosion rates and reduced offsite damages, as compared to base conditions, but at a cost in terms of reduced revenues or increased public expenditures. Increasingly restrictive soil loss constraints encouraged shifts in production practices in order of impact on net returns: tillage practices changed from conventional to the more soil conserving plow-plant and chisel plow, followed by adoption of contouring and terracing; finally, crop activities shifted from intensive row crops to rotations, including small grains and meadow.
Soil loss restrictions forced larger production adjustments on less productive, more erosion prone farms. When sediment delivery was restricted, a locational advantage was conferred on farms in close proximity to the reservoir.
Offsite damages were a significant determinant of the optimal combination of watershed cropping and conservation practices. Net social income (net crop returns minus offsite damage) was maximized at a soil loss of approximately 6 tons per acre per year. Several policies were capable of achieving this level of soil losses.
The subsidy policies evaluated were generally less efficient than regulatory policies in achieving soil loss targets. The differences between farm and watershed level regulatory policies were slight. Although it is economically more efficient to apply restrictions at the watershed level, the advantage was not substantial. Administrative advantages and farmer acceptance of a policy implemented at the farm level is likely to outweigh differences of the magnitude estimated.
Issue Date:1986
Description:226 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8701607
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1986

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