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New ERS Conservation Articles and Report

August 29, 2011

On Monday, August 22, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) issued a new edition of its Amber Waves magazine, featuring two important agricultural conservation stories.

“Reducing Agriculture’s Nitrogen Footprint: Are New Policy Approaches Needed?” is a helpful quick review by Marc Ribaudo of earlier ERS publications on nutrient management and the array of possible policies to accelerate adoption, including financial assistance, compliance, and regulation.

“Do Farm Programs Encourage Native Grassland Losses?” by Roger Claassen and other ERS economists summarizes the recent longer publication on the same subject issued in June.  It includes data indicating that crop insurance and commodity subsidies have spurred conversion of native grasslands to commodity production and suggests that swampbuster-like protections, under which wetland drainage on a farm jeopardizes farm program subsidies on the entire farm, may be needed to prevent further loss of important grassland resources.

Separately, on Augusts 24, ERS also released a new report on precision agriculture.  The 31-page report notes that adoption of farm-level information technologies to improve efficiencies in farm chemical use and drainage generally referred to as precision agriculture, has been less rapid than envisioned a decade ago.  For instance, adoption of variable-rate technology for chemical application was 12 percent for corn and 8 percent for soybeans in 2006, despite reported higher yields and lower fuel expenses by adopters compared to non-adopters.

Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment

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