Type of Document Master's Thesis Author Kalo, Altin A. Jr. Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-32098-161956 Title Analyzing the Economic and Environmental Impacts of Agricultural Alternatives - the Case of Virginia's Eastern Shore Degree Master of Science Department Agricultural and Applied Economics Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Taylor, Daniel B. Committee Chair Coale, Charles W. Jr. Committee Member Sterrett, Susan B. Committee Member Keywords
- Environmental Economics
- Eastern Shore of Virginia
Date of Defense 1997-12-03 Availability restricted AbstractThe evaluation of production alternatives in agriculture
requires a close examination of their economic and
environmental impacts. This study was conducted to
identify the crops with the highest profit potential
given terminal market prices over the last five years,
evaluate the feasibility of adopting new crop alternatives,
given historical price information and limited production
resources, and determine the potential environmental
impacts of adopting new cropping strategies in Accomack
and Northampton Counties on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
A database of daily terminal price information was created
to identify the market windows for specific commodities,
their respective high, median and low prices, and their
price variability over the last five years. A linear
programming model was used to determine optimal farming
operations for those farmers that grow only wheat and
soybean versus farmers who are willing and able to include
vegetables in their crop mix. PLANETOR, an environmental
impact computer program, was used to estimate the potential
soil erosion, pesticide leaching and runoff, nitrogen
leaching, and phosphorous runoff for different scenarios.
The model shows that some of the new vegetable commodities
could substantially increase the net returns of the farming
operations in question. Romaine and Boston Lettuce were
consistently selected as the most profitable alternatives
while the region's traditional crops offered little
competition. Wheat and soybean production showed acceptable
levels of soil erosion, as defined by the T-values for the
region, and low potential for nitrogen leaching. They did,
however, exhibit a higher potential for water contamination,
through leaching, or runoff, of high toxicity chemicals.
Although lettuce production had higher than recommended soil
losses, a well-diversified crop mix offsets its negative
impacts at the farm level. Lettuce also uses low toxicity
chemicals, decreasing potential health hazard from their
leaching or runoff. The introduction of the new vegetable
commodities is recommended on the basis of the high profits that they offer, as well as the more positive pesticide leaching and runoff potential. Their final adoption, however, should take place only after establishing a well defined marketing strategy and resolving potential marketing problems.
No crop exists that could offer both high profits and have
no impact on the environment. Kenaf was thought to be one,
but it was soon eliminated on both grounds. This study
showed, however, that the new vegetable crops considered
may offer better net returns, while they do not necessarily
translate into environmental disasters.
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