Behavioral economics of phosphorus use

Principal Investigator


The project uses surveys of farmer behavior and attitudes toward phosphorus fertilizer and conservation programs in combination with information about the effects of phosphorus (P) on yields to test hypotheses about P application rates and about enrollments in conservation programs. The three objectives are (1) understand farmer behavior and attitudes toward P-related BMPs and conservation programs, (2) measure the effectiveness of information tools and social priming on the adoption of P-related BMPs and enrollment in conservation programs, and (3) investigate reasons motivating farmers to or keep the status quo or change their behavior. The project activities involve a baseline survey of farmers, an information treatment provided to a random part of the farmers participating in the baseline survey, and an endline follow-up survey to measure any impacts of the information treatment and any changes in behavior. The information provided to each farmer in the treatment group will include crop yield data specific to their farm and farming practices from MSU’s SALAS crop simulator model. Hypotheses will be tested with economic and statistical analyses of the data. The project results will assist policymakers in designing cost-effective incentive mechanisms for conservation programs to reduce P-related pollution such as algal blooms.

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