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Minimum tillage adoption : an examination of the Canadian prairie provinces



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The use of minimum tillage technology reduces the quantity of tillage required to produce a crop, thereby reducing soil degradation. The reduced tillage results in increased soil organic matter and a reduction in soil and water erosion. Producers, researchers, and farm implement manufacturers have reduced land degradation through innovative farming practices and equipment. An example is the innovation of minimum tillage equipment and farming practices which is designed to reduce damage caused by increased tilling of the land. Minimum tillage maintains more of the previous crop’s residue on the surface of the soil, thereby reducing the damaging effects of wind and water erosion. Some Prairie producers have chosen to adopt minimum tillage technology, while others continue to use conventional tillage. The objective of this thesis is to determine which socio-economic, farm, and regional characteristics are influential in determining whether minimum tillage technology and practices are adopted. The theoretical framework for this thesis is based on an agriculture producer’s objective function. A lexicographic utility function is used, which means that each element of the utility function must be satisfied in order of rank with the highest level of utility achieved when the greatest number of elements has been satisfied. For the empirical analysis a Probit model is used to model the decision of whether to adopt minimum tillage technology. A number of socio-economic, farm, and regional characteristics, such as age, education, farm size, soil type, weather, and location of a research farm, were included as explanatory variables. The primary data source for the empirical analysis was farm level data from the Agriculture and Population Census data from 1991, 1996, and 2001, which resulted in over 42,000 observations in the data set. A number of model specifications and sensitivity analyses were run and the results obtained were consistent with one another, thus the findings presented in this thesis are robust. A number of socio-economic, farm, and regional characteristics are significant in determining whether minimum tillage is adopted. These variables include: Alberta dummy variable, summerfallow, age, total farm area, gross farm sales, black, brown, and dark gray soils, corporate operating structure, time, average maximum April and June temperature, and total June precipitation.



technology adoption, probit



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Agricultural Economics


Agricultural Economics


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