Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

Thomas H. Klindt

Committee Members

William Park, Luther Keller


In this research the extent of no-till use by farm operators was examined in an attempt to explain the influence of farm level variables. The proportion of cropland subjected to no-till practices increased with the age of the operator and the size of crop sales. Other variables were not found to be significant. However, it cannot be concluded that they had no influence.

In terms of policy implications, it appears that if control of erosion through no-till practices is the desired end, then additional research to explain why small units operated by younger farmers tend not to use no-till is needed. Accordingly, it is possible that policy alternatives may need to be directed toward such operators.

Consistent with the conclusions of Taylor and Young, overcoming obstacles related to decreased yields and increased pesticide costs must be dealt with through scientific research aimed at improving crop resistance to pests. This potential solution may not be imminent. But if soil conservation goals continue to be defined in erosion reducing terms, then short term solutions are needed until technology reaches a stage where incentives are no longer necessary. It is intuitive that maximum benefits for dollars spent on soil conservation, regions differing in soils and climates should be given differing incentive treatment. Soils which tend to retain moisture may not be at all conducive to no-till age techniques, especially in rainy climates, and-may not merit programs designed to encourage its use. In areas where pests are of specific concern, more attention should be given to encouraging no-till by cost sharing for increased use of pesticides and herbicides.

Although the variable associated with ownership was not found to be significant in this study, other studies have shown ownership related variables to be factors in determining the use of conservation practices. The increase in rented cropland in the U.S. supports the need for encouraging minimum tillage and no-tillage because of its appeal over structural practices to individuals with shorter planning periods and higher discount rates. It is suggested that identifying groups distinguished by tenancy status and differences in conservation practice adoption due to soil types and climate be given special attention by researchers to refine the criteria upon which funds are distributed for incentive programs.

If expansion of no-till is desired as a public policy goal, then in establishing future conservation policy, programs should evolve from the notion that farms are economic units and farmers act rationally as managers. With the likelihood that structurally, agriculture is becoming more corporate and ownership is declining, the dependence on the so-called farm ethic (which implies conservation decisions are made separately from concern about net returns) may not be as viable in explaining why conservation practices are undertaken.

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