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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Targeting Soil Conservation Policies for Sustainability: New Empirical Evidence

Authors
item Propp, J - UNIV OF ARKANSAS
item Hoag, D - COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
item Ascough, James

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 17, 2001
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Economic research was undertaken to study which soils might best be targeted for conservation, using economic and sustainability criteria. An economic model of non-irrigated corn production was created to determine, under requirements of maintaining a certain level of production or maintaining soil quality, if it was best to apply conservation practices in nthe management of the production process. Results show that decisions to use or conserve soil and the impacts of these decisions are highly dependent upon the characteristics of the soil and how sustainability is defined. In general, while soil conservation slowed degradation on erodible soils, it seemed to be more effective and economically efficient the better the initial quality of the soil.

Technical Abstract: Sustainable resource management is one of the most complex concerns today. Society has spent billions on conserving soils in production yet it is unclear whether these efforts buy sustainability. Further study about which soils need conservation merits consideration. We use a simulation model, regression and optimization analysis to examine the sustainability of resource management in objective, measurable ways. Soil quality, represented by a new index, and other non-irrigated corn production data are placed into a dynamic model to identify: 1) the conditions where soil conservation is efficient, and 2) under what definitions conservation is sustainable. Results show that decisions to use or conserve soil and the impacts of these decisions are highly dependent upon soil type and how sustainability is defined. In general, while soil conservation slowed degradation on erodible soils, it seemed to be more effective and economically efficient the better the initial quality of the soil.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014
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