Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Applied Economics and Statistics

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Anastasia Thayer

Committee Member

Dr. Mani Rouhi Rad

Committee Member

Dr. Michael Vassalos


Abating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the agricultural sector can help
combat climate change and meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agree-
ment. The agricultural sector can sequester soil organic carbon and, by adopt-
ing conservation-driven land-use decisions, such as reducing or stopping tillage,
increase carbon storage in soil and reduce nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions.
This thesis will compare the cost of achieving different levels of GHG emis-
sions reduction through payments based on: 1) region averages for GHG emis-
sions by crop and practice, without considering additionality, 2) region averages
for GHG emissions by crop and practice while considering additionality, 3) a
prediction of GHG emissions for each alternative crop and practice decision,
without considering additionality, and 4) a prediction of GHG emissions for
each alternative crop and practice decision while considering additionality. To
conduct this research, I develop models of producer decision-making based on
economic theory and use a novel simulated biophysical model dataset from 2000
to 2020 in Iowa.
Results suggest that payments based on additionality tend to reduce more
GHG emissions and at a lower total cost, especially when heterogeneity is con-
sidered. Payments based on regressions, or predictions of actual abatement at
the Natural Resources Inventory point level, result in a greater reduction of
GHG emissions but at a higher total cost. Most farms convert tillage practices
to no-till practices rather than adopting cover cropping practices. Consider-
ing heterogeneity among decision-makers estimates a larger reduction of GHG
emissions at a lower total cost.



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