A Farm Simulation Model of BMP Adoption for Improvements to Off-Farm Water Quality

Researchers: Peter Boxall, University of Alberta; Wanhong Yang, University of Guelph; Scott Jeffrey, University of Alberta

Research Summary

This project involves the development of a stochastic farm simulation model for examining the on-farm economic implications of adopting beneficial management practices (BMPs) to improve off-farm water quality in a representative watershed in southern Manitoba. The model will characterize the input and output relationships of farm production and the adoption of one or more beneficial management practices by the farm manager. The list of BMPs examined will include those proposed by AAFC and Manitoba Agriculture specialists such as riparian buffer and conservation tillage. GIS will be used to examine spatial variations of BMPs’ economic impacts at watershed scale. Outputs from this model will enable the researchers to examine changes in various farm performance measures (e.g., cash flow, net income, solvency) in order to develop some understanding of the policy measures that could be employed to improve the rate of adoption in the watershed.

The project will employ one graduate student. Funding from AAFC is expected to fund complementary research and the second year of this project. The research will advance policy analysis in sustainable farm production and provide methodologies for moving this research into other regions in Canada such as Ontario and Quebec.

Significance of Research

Conservation programs such as the Environmental Farm Plan and Greencover Program are providing financial incentives to farmers to adopt various BMPS. However, it is unknown if the financial incentives are sufficient to promote targetted adoption levels. The proposed project is timely and critical for assessing the performance of these programs. Knowledge on on-farm impacts and cost implications of BMPs is required to understand the financial incentives for promoting “greener” farming practices. This information can also be used along with information from behavioural studies of farm adoption behaviour and hydrologic models to develop cost effective policies for promoting adoption of these practices and trace the influence of adoption through on environmental quality at various spatial scales. The outcomes from this research will assist in evaluating the potential impact of BMP at the farm level and in evaluating sustainable agricultural production in Canada.

Summary of Research Results: Yet to come.