Best Management Practices and Nutrient Reduction: An Integrated Economic-Hydrologic Model of the Western Lake Erie Basin

Hongxing Liu, Wendong Zhang, Elena Irwin, Jeffrey Kast, Noel Aloysius, Jay Martin and Margaret Kalcic


We develop the first spatially integrated economic-hydrologic model of the western Lake Erie basin explicitly linking economic models of farmers’ field-level best management practice (BMP) adoption choices with the Soil and Water Assessment Tool to evaluate nutrient management policy cost-effectiveness. We quantify trade-offs among phosphorus reduction policies and find that a hybrid policy coupling a fertilizer tax with cost-share payments for subsurface placement is the most cost-effective and can achieve the policy goal of 40% reduction in nutrient loadings. We also find economic adoption models alone can overstate the potential for BMPs to reduce nutrient loadings by ignoring biophysical complexities. (JEL Q18, Q53)