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Essays on agricultural productivity and the environment

Federico J Trindade, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The increment in food prices observed in recent years drew the attention of researchers and policymakers to the long term capacity of the world to feed itself in the near future. While it is estimated that an additional 30 percent increase in the world population and higher incomes will double food demand by 2050, several studies indicated that the growth rate of agricultural productivity in the developed world has been slowing down. The food production increases needed to satisfy future demand will put greater stress on existing cropland and natural resources. As an additional source of concern, several studies estimate that climate change is likely to aggravate the situation. Chapter 1 analyzes trends in agricultural productivity growth in South America, a region that is likely to have a major role in fulfilling the increased future food demand, to investigate if the slowdown being observed in other regions is present in the subcontinent. Additionally, we study how the institutional, economical and sociological environment affects agricultural productivity. Chapter 2 studies the impact of climate on agricultural productivity for 101 counties in Nebraska and Iowa for the 1960-2008 period by developing a county level biomass production function that in addition to the climatic variables it also considers human inputs, soil organic matter and percentage of irrigated land. The production function is jointly estimated with farmers’ demand equations for fertilizers and chemicals to account for farmers’ profit maximizing behavior. Chapter 3 inspects agricultural production survey data for more than 30,000 farms in Nebraska during the period 2004-2011 to estimate a corn yield production function that approximates the impact of climate on agricultural productivity and the effect of water from irrigation. The inclusion of irrigation is of particular importance, since it allows studying its use as a source of heat mitigation and productivity enhancer. As in chapter two, the production function is jointly estimated with human inputs cost share equations to account for the farmers’ profit maximizing behavior.

Subject Area

Agricultural economics

Recommended Citation

Trindade, Federico J, "Essays on agricultural productivity and the environment" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3716168.