Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

William L. Park

Committee Members

Luther Keller, Thomas Klindt


Off-site effects of soil erosion from cropland on water quality and flooding are of increasing social concern. The objective of reducing off-site damaging effects from soil erosion has gained in prominence relative to maintaining on-site soil productivity. However, there has been limited success of past Federal soil erosion control programs to induce erosion control on the most highly erosive land, especially the conversion of highly eroding cropland to a permanent vegetative cover. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate factors and policies relating to use of highly erosive land in West Tennessee for crop production. A survey was conducted in Dyer and Fayette Counties in West Tennessee to obtain data for the analyses.

The Soil Conservation Service's 1982 National Resource Inventory data reveals that West Tennessee has 438,000 acres of cropland designated by the Soil Conservation Service as Class IV, VI, and VII--land considered unsuitable for crop production. However, the distribution of this marginal cropland in relation to field operating units is not well known. Landowners' farms in Fayette County are analyzed in this respect. The results indicate that at a field level of analysis. Class IV, VI, and VII cropland is intermingled with many lower lapd capability classes. As such, most of this land is in fields where it represents less than half of the acreage. This distribution may create an unwillingness for landowners to voluntarily participate in conservation programs to induce conversion of this type of land to a permanent vegetative cover and would also cause difficulty in administering a regulatory approach to require conversion.

A logit regression model was used to evaluate factors which may influence landowners to row-crop Class IV, VI, and VII land. In addition, farmers' estimates of their yields, prices, and variable production expenses for row-crops grown on the highly erosive fields in the study were analyzed to ascertain what level of net returns farmers perceived they were obtaining. Implications for policies to influence conversion of highly erosive land to a permanent vegetative cover were investigated.

The Food Security Act of 1985 has a Conservation Reserve Program where farm operators would submit bids for the amount of payment they would accept from the Federal government to convert highly erosive land to a permanent vegetative cover. Hypothetical bids were obtained from the landowners in both Dyer and Fayette Counties and then analyzed. The results from this study indicate that a bidding approach to retire highly erosive cropland is more cost effective from a public policy perspective than traditional uniform offer approaches. Finally, information on owner, farm, and field characteristics was utilized in a regression model to estimate the relationship of these characteristics to landowners' bid levels.

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