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Optimal pest control in agriculture

  • Christiaans, Thomas
  • Eichner, Thomas
  • Pethig, Rudiger

Based on economic methodology we model an ecosystem with two species in predator-prey relationship: mice feed on grain and grain feeds on a resource. With optimizing behavior of individual organisms a short-run ecosystem equilibrium is defined and characterized that depends on the farmer's use of fertilizer and on the mice population which, in turn, is affected by pesticides. In that way, a microfounded agricultural production function is derived. Linking a sequence of short-run ecosystem equilibria yields the growth function of the mice population which is thus derived rather than assumed. In each period the farmer harvests all grain in excess of some given amount of seed. If she maximizes her present-value profits, optimal farming is shown to depend on the prices of pesticide and grain. It is either optimal to use no pesticide or a moderate amount of pesticide or to apply a chattering control. Pest eradication is never optimal. On the other hand, if the farmer takes into account steady state mice populations only, it may be optimal to eradicate mice or to use no or a moderate amount of pesticide depending on prices as well as on the shape of the grain production function which is determined by micro parameters of grain reproduction.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control.

Volume (Year): 31 (2007)
Issue (Month): 12 (December)
Pages: 3965-3985

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Handle: RePEc:eee:dyncon:v:31:y:2007:i:12:p:3965-3985
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  1. Thomas Eichner & Rüdiger Pethig, 2004. "Economic Land Use, Ecosystem Services and Microfounded Species Dynamics," CESifo Working Paper Series 1269, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Grimm, Sadi S. & Paris, Quirino & Williams, William A., 1987. "A Von Liebig Model For Water And Nitrogen Crop Response," Western Journal of Agricultural Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 12(02), December.
  3. Chambers, Robert G. & Lichtenberg, Erik, 1994. "A Nonparametric Approach to the von Liebig-Paris Technology," Working Papers 197799, University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  4. Feder, G. & Regev, U., 1975. "Biological interactions and environmental effects in the economics of pest control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 75-91, December.
  5. Thomas Christiaans & Thomas Eichner & Rüdiger Pethig, 2005. "A micro-level ‘consumer approach’ to species population dynamics," Volkswirtschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 123-05, Universität Siegen, Fakultät Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Wirtschaftsinformatik und Wirtschaftsrecht.
  6. Finnoff, David & Tschirhart, John, 2003. "Harvesting in an eight-species ecosystem," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 589-611, May.
  7. Pethig, Rudiger, 2004. "Agriculture, pesticides and the ecosystem," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 31(1), pages 17-32, July.
  8. David Finnoff & John Tschirhart, 2003. "Protecting an Endangered Species While Harvesting Its Prey in a General Equilibrium Ecosystem Model," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(2), pages 160-180.
  9. Thomas Crocker & John Tschirhart, 1992. "Ecosystems, externalities, and economies," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(6), pages 551-567, November.
  10. Babcock, Bruce A. & Lichtenberg, E. & Zilberman, David, 1992. "Impact of Damage Control and Quality of Output: Estimating Pest Control Effectiveness," Staff General Research Papers 10589, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  11. Thomas Eichner & Rüdiger Pethig, 2003. "A Microfoundation of Predator-Prey Dynamics," CESifo Working Paper Series 950, CESifo Group Munich.
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