The Econometrics of Land Use Change and Biofuels
This project is developing predictions of land use by crop, based on fine-scale micro-data at less than the county level of aggregation. Estimates are based on crop characteristics and on land characteristics such as weather. Since this approach depends upon characteristics of crops (such as yield response to temperature), it is possible to predict where new crops will enter the landscape.
We have matched soil, weather, and land use data for states along the Mississippi River and are using this data set to find the effects of climate change and of growing second-generation biofuels on land use. Our work is based upon actual patterns of land use, the result of choices made by farmers. In preliminary results, we find that the effect of a small temperature increase in the growing season shifts cropping slightly towards soybean and away from corn, but with a net increase in acreage for these two crops together in Iowa. In Arkansas we also see increases in soy and decreases in corn and we also see increases in cotton and little change in rice coverage. Again, we see increases in total land in crops. Our examination of potential coverage for second-generation biofuels is more nascent; however, in our very preliminary work it appears that these fuels may well be planted on land that is now classified as agricultural but not crop land -- for instance, pasture.
Soil, climate, and price do explain the choice of which crops are grown. Berck’s team estimated crop cover on new data available at a below-county scale and compared it to estimations at the county level. They found that the usual practice of using county level data results in an understatement of the importance of soil and climate.
Published in 2012
Climate-Regulation Services of Natural and Agricultural Ecoregions of the Americas, Kristina Anderson-Teixeira, Peter Snyder, Tracy Twine, Santiago Cuadra, Marcos Costa, Evan DeLucia, Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate1346, January 8, 2012.