This paper introduces a modeling method which simulates a village's response to population and market pressure. The method combines a recursive and dynamic linear programming model with a biophysical model of soil condition and plant growth that predicts yields and land degradation for different type of land, land use and cropping patterns. The linear programming model simulates farmers' plans aggregated at the village level under constraints of risk aversion, food consumption, land area, soil fertility, soil depth, labor and cash availability. Detailed agroecological factors determine the main processes of land degradation. A large number of technological alternatives, representing different degrees of labor and/or land-saving techniques available in the study areas, are introduced, taking into account their respective constraints, costs and advantages. The method has been calibrated for a village located in the sub-humid region of Burkina Faso. Several simulations are carried out to the Year 2030. The results show that population pressure leads to intensification and investment in land conservation practices but not necessarily to better farm incomes. Increasing market opportunities can play a more positive role in boosting productivity, but for the next decades the best way to increase production per farmer is to let farmers migrate from the highpopulation- density areas to the low-population-density areas because, under the current economic conditions of most Sahelian countries, intensification per hectare is stil more expensive than the fallow system. © 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.