THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE CONSERVATION TILLAGE ADOPTION DECISION IN AGRICULTURE IN THE UNITED STATES

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Abstract

The environmental consequences of conservation tillage practices are an important issue concerning the impact of agricultural production on the environment. While it is generally recognized that water runoff and soil erosion will decline as no tillage and mulch tillage systems are used more extensively on cropland, what will happen to pesticide and fertilizer use remains uncertain. To gain some insight into this, the conservation tillage adoption decision is modelled. Starting with the assumption that this dicision is a two step procedure – the first is the decision whether or not adopt a conservation tillage production system and the second is the decision on the extent to which conservation tillage should be used – appropriate models of the Cragg and Heckman (dominance) type are estimated. Based on farm-level data on corn production in the United States for 1987, the profile of a farm on which conservation tillage was adopted is that cropland had above average slope and experienced above average rainfall, the farm was a cash grain enterprise, and it had an above average expenditure on pesticides and a below average expenditure on fuel and a below average expenditure on custom pesticide applications. Additionally, for a farm adopting a no tillage production practice, an above average expenditure was made on fertilizer.

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