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Predicting Intensification on the Brazilian Agricultural Frontier: Combining Evidence from Lab-In-The-Field Experiments and Household Surveys

Arthur Bragança () and Avery Simon Cohn ()
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Arthur Bragança: Núcleo de Avaliação de Políticas Climáticas, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), R. Marquês de São Vicente, 225-Gávea, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 22451-900, Brazil
Avery Simon Cohn: Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, 150 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA 02111, USA

Land, 2019, vol. 8, issue 1, 1-22

Abstract: The expansion of crop agriculture onto low productivity cattle pastures in the agricultural frontier of Brazil is a form of agricultural intensification that can help to contribute to global food and climate goals. However, the amount of pasture to crop conversion in the region lags both agronomic and economic potential. We administered a survey in combination with a lab-in-the-field experiment to 559 farmers in Mato Grosso, Brazil. We used the results to explore behavioral determinants of pasture to crop conversion. We compared subjects’ choices across two rounds of a risk game meant to mimic the economic risk of decisions to convert pasture to crops. We found framing the risk game to concern agriculture profoundly altered subjects’ experimental choices. These discrepancies involved the majority of experimental subjects, and were highly heterogenous in nature. They were also somewhat predictive of subjects’ behavior converting pasture to cropland. Our findings indicate that farmers may make economic decisions involving agriculture and/or agricultural land differently from other economic decisions. Our finding are of relevance for research into the propensity of farmers to intensify and for policies seeking to influence rates of agricultural intensification.

Keywords: lab-in-the-field experiment; agricultural intensification; cattle pasture; cropland; household survey; land use change (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q15 Q2 Q24 Q28 Q5 R14 R52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Handle: RePEc:gam:jlands:v:8:y:2019:i:1:p:21-:d:198365