Biases in Nutrient Management Planning

Chad Lawley, Erik Lichtenberg and Doug Parker

Abstract

Nutrient management planning is seen as a means of improving efficiency and reducing environmental problems, however, these gains may not be realized if plans overstate fertilizer requirements. Using data from a survey of Maryland farmers, we find that nutrient management planning was adopted more frequently by larger operations raising grain or cattle, but not by those on more environmentally sensitive land. Independent consultants and fertilizer dealers were more likely to recommend increases in fertilizer use, consistent with fears about bias. Farmers preparing their own plans were more likely to recommend decreases in fertilizer use, suggesting the presence of hidden information. (JEL Q53, Q18)