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This paper presents estimates of the benefits and costs of alternative soil conservation policies in a spatially and temporally consistent framework. The policies considered are implementation of soil conservation practices with an objective of reducing erosion to a site's tolerance level and a policy with an objective of a voluntary 50% reduction in conventional tillage. Costs and erosion benefits of these two policies are compared with that obtained from CRP. The changes in erosion and cost are estimated relative to 1992 levels. The analysis is conducted on every NRI point in a 12-state region in the north central United States. Erosion metamodels estimated using site-specific resource, production, topography, and weather data make such an endeavor tractable. The results indicate that having farmers adopt conservation plans on highly erodible fields is a sensible, cost effective policy. The public benefits of controlling erosion more than offset the small increased cost from adoption of conservation practices and conservation tillage. A significant amount of current CRP land is not susceptible to high erosion rates, which drives down the average benefit to cost ratio across the study region. A more targeted CRP would increase this ratio to the point where it could approach unity.


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