Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014DE271B

Procuring Abatement: Cover Crop Cost Heterogeneity and Optimal Policy Design in Delaware

Institute: Delaware
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-06-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $1,500 Total Non-Federal Funds: $2,775

Principal Investigators: Joshua Duke

Abstract: Cover crops are one of the most cost effective nutrient management practices and further adoption plays a significant role in Delawares plan to meet the Chesapeake Bay TMDLs (DNREC WIP Phase II). Cover crops have many private and public benefits. Scientific evidence indicates public benefits, such as reduction in sediment loss and reduction in nitrate leaching to surface waters between 45-90%, depending on agronomic factors. Cover crops also have private benefits to the farm such as lower sediment loss, a potential increase in cash crop yield, a reduction in nutrient loss, an increase in soil biomass and organic carbon content, a chemical release to break pest cycles, and improved water infiltration and holding properties. Policy incentives are needed to encourage most farmers to adopt cover crops because the private benefits may be less than the private costs, at least initially. These policies are warranted by high public benefits. This research focuses on increasing knowledge about cover crop program flexibility in Delaware. An integrated analysis will simulate field level nutrient load reductions from various program flexibility options, calculate per acre payments, and test for heterogeneity in the imputed price per unit of nutrient abated by each flexibility provision. The results will inform policies for cost effective nutrient reduction.