Farmers' time investment in human capital: A comparison between conventional and reduced-chemical growers

Maria A. Boerngen, David S Bullock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Many investigators have surmised that reduced-chemical and organic crop production require the input of a higher level of human capital than does conventional production. But no previous study has measured and compared whether the amounts of human capital growers use in managing their production systems differ across those systems. To provide the first measure of the time investment made in human capital by conventional and reduced-chemical farmers, we conducted a survey of 1000 Illinois households to obtain estimates of the amount of time spent by these different types of farmers to accumulate the human capital needed in their management practices. Conventional farmers reported spending just over 3 h week-1 'keeping up' with information about their production practices, while reduced-chemical and organic farmers reported a time investment of nearly 4 h week-1. This difference was found to be statistically significant, suggesting that chemical inputs and human capital may be economic substitutes. Farmers who adopted reduced-chemical practices reported a transition period of 1-2 years; during this period, they spent around 3 h week-1 learning about reduced-chemical technology. Adopters of organic practices also reported a transition period of 1-2 years; during this period, they invested 5 h week-1 learning about organic technology. The quantitative results of this study will be useful for future empirical work that investigates the potential costs and benefits of using subsidies to induce conventional farmers to switch to alternative production practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-109
Number of pages10
JournalRenewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2004

Keywords

  • Human capital costs
  • Organic technology
  • Profitability comparisons
  • Reduced-chemical technology
  • Transition costs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Farmers' time investment in human capital: A comparison between conventional and reduced-chemical growers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this