Underground Knowledge: Estimating the Impacts of Soil Information Transfers through Experimental Auctions

Murphy, D.M., Roobroeck, D., Lee, D.R. and Thies, J. (2020), Underground Knowledge: Estimating the Impacts of Soil Information Transfers Through Experimental Auctions. Amer. J. Agr. Econ., 102: 1468-1493. doi:10.1111/ajae.12101

124 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2019 Last revised: 29 Sep 2020

See all articles by David M. A. Murphy

David M. A. Murphy

Colgate University

Dries Roobroeck

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

David R. Lee

Applied Economics & Management, Cornell University

Janice Thies

Cornell University - Department of Soil, Crop and Atmospheric Sciences

Date Written: November 15, 2019

Abstract

Soil degradation, a serious environmental problem in many developing countries, often necessitates the use of fertilizers to improve crop yields. However, smallholders usually do not have sufficient information about their soil nutrient levels to make profit-maximizing decisions about fertilizer usage. We conducted two-round experimental auctions to determine whether providing information and fertilizer recommendations from inexpensive soil testing kits to farmers in western Kenya affected their behavior and ability to optimize their input choices. We auctioned organic and inorganic agricultural inputs, dividing farmers into information treatments, and analyzed the data using double and triple difference estimations. We find that providing soil information has significant effects on farmers’ willingness to pay for inputs. We then use Monte Carlo simulations to show that there is potential for high net benefits to farmers from individualized soil tests. These results suggest that soil testing can be a cost-effective method to increase food security in the region.

Keywords: Organic inputs, fertilizer, experimental auctions, information transfers, Kenya, soil fertility

JEL Classification: Q12, O13, Q24, D83, C93

Suggested Citation

Murphy, David M. A. and Roobroeck, Dries and Lee, David R. and Thies, Janice, Underground Knowledge: Estimating the Impacts of Soil Information Transfers through Experimental Auctions (November 15, 2019). Murphy, D.M., Roobroeck, D., Lee, D.R. and Thies, J. (2020), Underground Knowledge: Estimating the Impacts of Soil Information Transfers Through Experimental Auctions. Amer. J. Agr. Econ., 102: 1468-1493. doi:10.1111/ajae.12101, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3493308 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3493308

David M. A. Murphy (Contact Author)

Colgate University ( email )

13 Oak Drive
Hamilton, NY 13346
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.davidmurphyecon.com

Dries Roobroeck

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

PMB 5320, Oyo Road, Ibadan
Oyo State, Dar es Salaam 200001
Tanzania

David R. Lee

Applied Economics & Management, Cornell University ( email )

248 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14850
United States

HOME PAGE: http://aem.cornell.edu/noflash.htm

Janice Thies

Cornell University - Department of Soil, Crop and Atmospheric Sciences

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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