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Integrating soil science into agricultural production frontiers

Journal article
Authors Anders Ekbom
Yonas Alem
Thomas Sterner
Published in Environment and Development Economics
Volume 18
Pages 291-308
ISSN 1355-770X
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 291-308
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1017/s1355770x1300008...
Subject categories Economics and Business, Earth and Related Environmental Sciences

Abstract

This paper integrates soil science variables into an economic analysis of agricultural output among small-scale farmers in Kenya's highlands. The integration is valuable because farmers' choice of inputs depends on both the status of the soil and socioeconomic conditions. The study uses a stochastic production frontier in which the individual farm's distance to the frontier depends systematically on individual factors. We show the importance of including key soil properties and find that phosphorus has a negative output elasticity, suggesting that farms may be using the wrong fertilizer mix. Hence, the central policy implication is that while fertilizers are generally beneficial, their application needs to be based on better soil information. This highlights the importance of strengthening agricultural extension, increased access to markets and more diversified supply of production inputs.

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